Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his support for an increase in fuel prices on Sunday, which led to protests throughout the country. Khamenei condemns the demonstrators and states that they have been “sabotaged” by enemies from abroad.
“Some people may have doubts about this decision, but sabotage and arson are carried out by rig, not by our people. The counter-revolutionaries and other enemies of Iran have always supported and continue to support sabotage and security disruptions,” he said. Iranian state television.
There have been demonstrations since Friday against the price increases. Iranian news agencies and social media commentators describe how demonstrators in different places in Iran shouted slogans against the government and blocked roads. Some of those protests ended in violence. Social media showed images of burning government buildings and clashes between demonstrators and the security services. A protester was killed in the southeastern city of Sirjan, the Iranian government reported.
Social media are talking about more fatalities, including in capital Tehran, but those messages could not be confirmed. In one video you could see how the police used tear gas against demonstrators, in another, a bank was set on fire by protesters.
According to the Iranian news agency Fars, at least a thousand demonstrators were arrested and at least a hundred banks were set on fire. Due to the protests, the Iranian government has destroyed almost all internet connections in the country.
“Unfortunately, some problems arose, a number of people lost their lives and some buildings were destroyed,” Khamenei said of the riots. According to the grand Ayatollah, the higher excise duties on fuel are based on the opinion of experts. He called on the government not to raise the prices of other goods too much.
It is not the first time that widespread protests have taken place in Iran. At the end of 2017, citizens in 80 cities and villages took to the streets because of the low standard of living. According to official government figures, 22 people were killed.