Thousands of Iranians rally against rioting in Tehran

Tehran: Thousands of supporters of Iran’s government converged on a square in the capital Tehran on Monday to condemn days of “rioting” that the Islamic republic blames on its foreign foes.
Waving the Iranian flag and banners, they marched from all directions towards Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square.
In a shock announcement 10 days ago, Iran had raised the price of petrol by up to 200 per cent, triggering nationwide protests in a country whose economy has been battered by US sanctions.
Officials say the demonstrations turned violent because of the intervention of “thugs” backed by royalists and Iran’s arch-enemies.
AFP correspondents said the square was filling up quickly Monday with young and old, including clerics carrying portraits of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. State television showed live footage of people gathered for the demonstration.
The rally was to be addressed by Major General Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which helped put down the unrest.
Ahead of the rally, Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the “interference of foreign countries” in the street violence.
“We recommend they watch the rallies taking place these days in our country so they realise who the real people are in our country,” spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
The unrest erupted hours after a midnight announcement that the price of petrol would be immediately raised by 50 per cent for the first 60 litres and 200 per cent for any extra fuel after that each month.
President Hassan Rouhani said the proceeds would allow his government to provide welfare payments to the needy in Iran.
Rear-Admiral Ali Fadavi, deputy commander in chief of the Guards, on Sunday warned Iran would severely punish “mercenaries” arrested over the violence. — AFP