Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to downplay the significance of sometimes violent protests across his country that have left 12 people dead in the biggest challenge to the authority of the Tehran regime since mass demonstrations in 2009.
Iranian President Rouhani calls for unity as death toll rises in unrest
« Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing, » Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament on Monday.
Rouhani has called for calm as his government deals with the widespread spontaneous uprising.
— A man « creating a disturbance » shot at police Monday with a hunting rifle, killing one officer and wounding three others, according to state media. The shooting happened in Najafabad.
— Fresh protests broke out in Tehran and other cities, with amateur video showing demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans.
— Rouhani called out Donald Trump after a series of tweets from the US President in support of the protests.
— Russia weighed in, saying the demonstrations are an « internal affair » for Iran and external interference is unacceptable.
— US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted support for protesters, saying « We will not let them down. »
— Rouhani has acknowledged that Iranians have the right to protest legally but urged national unity Monday as « the first and most important step at this stage. »
— A significant Internet outage was reported across Iran on Monday afternoon, but some users said later it was working again.
— Iran’s Ministry of Information said agitators in the disturbances have been identified and arrested, and warned that people participating in illegal activities would be « seriously dealt with. »
The protests were sparked by concerns about rising living costs and a stagnant economy, but developed into a broader outcry against the regime.
They are the most serious challenge to Tehran’s authority since the so-called Green Movement of 2009, when millions marched in the capital to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opposition alleged the vote was rigged.