More pro-govt rallies as Iran declares ‘sedition’ over

TEHRAN: Iran saw another day of large pro-government rallies on Thursday after authorities declared the end of deadly unrest and turned attention to addressing the economic concerns that fuelled protests.
A week after the demonstrations broke out, there were no reports of fresh protests in local media overnight, while videos on social media suggested only limited unrest in provincial towns which could not be immediately verified.
As Washington said it may look to impose fresh sanctions on Tehran, Iranian authorities were weighing options including blocking unpopular measures in President Hassan Rouhani’s recent budget.
State television showed huge crowds marching in support of the government across 10 cities early on Thursday, including Isfahan, Ardebil and Mashhad, where the protests first erupted last Thursday.
“We are together behind the leader,” chanted the crowds, in reference to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The head of the army, General Abdolrahim Mousavin, thanked security forces for “putting out the fire of sedition”. An adviser to Khamenei said: “The revolutionary Iranian people have responded in time to the enemies and trouble-makers by coming out on the streets”.
“The people’s main demand now is for the government and officials to deal with the economic problems,” Ali Akbar Velayati told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
A total of 21 people died and hundreds were arrested in five days of unrest that began on December 28 as protests against economic grievances and quickly turned against the regime as a whole, with attacks on government buildings and police stations.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Thursday said 42,000 people had taken part in the unrest nationwide.
It was a higher figure than the 15,000 given by the head of the Revolutionary Guards a day earlier, but still far below the hundreds of thousands that took to the streets during the last major protest movement in 2009. — AFP