Iran’s top leader warns ‘thugs’ as protests reach 100 cities
Iran shut down internet access for 80 million people to suppress demonstrations that took place in over 100 cities. This made it extremely difficult for news sources and civilians alike to gauge the extent of the protests. Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei cautiously backed the government’s decision to raise gas prices by 50% amid the protests. Protests over the weekend turned violent, with demonstrators setting fires and attacking public property and gunshots evident in videos from the demonstrations. Although information on how many people were arrested, injured, or killed remains unavailable, videos show people severely wounded.
The Iran news agency Fars states that the number of protestors reached 87,000, and claimed that 1,000 were arrested when over 100 stores and banks were ransacked. Iran still struggles to overcome US sanctions that wreaked havoc on the economy and caused financial unrest across the country. The demonstrations also show Iranians’ anger after the collapse of the national currency, the rial, and thousands lost their jobs and savings. The internet shutdown caused international controversy, with many claiming it was a violation of basic rights and liberties, and other organizations stating that it was the largest internet shut down in Iran to date. On Saturday, connectivity dropped to 7% of ordinary levels.