Anti-government protests across Iran have continued with 10 confirmed deaths as President Hassan Rouhani calls for calm and an end to violent demonstrations.
Small to medium sized protests escalated in cities across Iran as demonstrators tore down posters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.
Protesters reportedly stormed the governor’s compound in the western city of Arak and started fires at government offices in Ahvaz, a city in the country’s southwest.
Initially the protests were about price hikes and poor economic conditions in the country, but some of them have transformed into calls for regime change.
On the other hand, Iranian authorities have blamed foreign intelligence agencies for the violence.
State media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, as saying in response to a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump: “The Iranian people see no value in the opportunistic claims by American officials and Mr Trump.”
The chief executive of Telegram, a popular messaging app in Iran, agreed to shut down a channel popular with the opposition for allegedly encouraging violence after being contacted by an Iranian minister.
Several dozen students at the University of Tehran protested at the campus gates and chanted “death to the dictator” in apparent reference to Ayatollah Khamenei.
Security forces made arrests and the protesters were eventually replaced by a larger crowd of pro-government students who chanted “death to the seditionists” as they took back control of the gates.
President Hassan Rohani addressed the current unrest in Iran for the first yesterday, saying that people have the right to protest their government but that it should not end in violence.
He also criticised President Trump, saying “those who called Iranians terrorists have no business sympathising with our nation.”
Rouhani was quoted by Mehr news agency as telling his cabinet: “Iranians understand the sensitive situation of Iran and region and will act based on their national interests.”
Analysts do not believe the protests in Iran will pose a serious threat to the ruling authorities as the vast majority of Iranians do not have the appetite for an Arab Spring style uprising.