Iranians have taken to the streets in several cities in their hundreds of thousands to renew their allegiance to condemn the recent wave of deadly violence in some areas.
Holding banners and national flags, the demonstrators chanted pro-government slogans during the mass rallies which were held in different towns and cities, including Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Bushehr, Abadan, Gorgan and Qom.
Last week, a number of peaceful protests over economic grievances started in several cities, but some of those gatherings turned violent.
Over a dozen people have been killed in the ensuing violence, according to state media reports. Western media put the figure at over 20.
The participants further shouted slogans against the United States and the Israeli regime, which have voiced support for the protests.
Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused his country’s enemies of stirring unrest as the death toll from growing anti-government protests rose.
The demonstrations started last week over rising food prices. They have since grown into the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leadership in eight years.
Ayatollah Khamenei said: “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have used various means, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus, to create troubles for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.”
He did not mention any enemies by name but Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia were behind the riots.
On Twitter, US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting daily in support of the protesters, said on Tuesday: “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime… The U.S. is watching!”
The United States rejected the suggestion that the protests were the work of foreign powers.
“We all know that’s complete nonsense,” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “The demonstrations are completely spontaneous. They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long oppressed people rising up against their dictators.”
More than 450 protesters were arrested in the capital in the last three days, Tehran’s deputy provincial governor said, and hundreds of others were detained around the country, with judicial officials saying they would be severely punished.