Two protesters were reportedly killed and dozens arrested during demonstrations overnight across Iran, as the nation’s interior minister warned on Sunday that protesters would “pay the price” for what he called their unlawful actions.
What began as a protest over rising prices and other economic difficulties in one city on Thursday quickly grew into a nationwide outpouring of anger against the government of President Hassan Rouhani. Protests continued for a third night on Saturday, with news reports and social media posts describing sometimes violent demonstrations in cities including the capital, Tehran.
According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, semiofficial Iranian news outlets showed footage of protesters attacking banks and municipal buildings across the nation, including a local government building in Tehran. It said 80 people were arrested overnight in Arak, a city southwest of Tehran.
“Those who damage public property, disrupt order and break the law must be responsible for their behavior and pay the price,” Iran’s interior minister, Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli, said on state television Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse.
“The spreading of violence, fear and terror will definitely be confronted,” he said. “The vigilance and intelligence of people has always led any plot to fail.”
The unauthorized protests have challenged the authorities, with crowds turning revolutionary slogans against the government of the Islamic Republic, which took power following a revolution in 1979. Protesters in Tehran and elsewhere have called for the resignation of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as witnesses have described crowds chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Clerics should get lost.”