Iran: Night Protests Challenge Security, Officials Exchange Criticism

Anti-government demonstrations in Tehran/AFP
Anti-government demonstrations in Tehran/AFP
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Iran: Night Protests Challenge Security, Officials Exchange Criticism

Anti-government demonstrations in Tehran/AFP
Anti-government demonstrations in Tehran/AFP

Iranian preachers’ podiums turned on Friday into stages from where they attacked anti-government protests that kicked off last week in several parts of the country to object to a surge in the prices of basic food supplies and the regime’s bad regional policy.

In a telephone interview from Tehran, Iranian human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Starting 3 pm till late at night, the main streets of Tehran witnessed fueled moments.”

Although the regime was capable to quell anti-government protests in Iran in the past 39 years, night demonstrations continued across the country on Friday.

Protestors echoed their voices in the presence of more than 50 thousand people who attended a football match in the 'Tractor Sazi' stadium in Tabriz, the central province of Azerbaijan.

The Friday prayer leader in Sunni-majority Zahedan, Abdulhamid Mullazahi, criticized authorities for quelling protests and called on officials to pay attention to the demands of the Iranians and their problems.

Official reports said that more than 22 people were killed in the unrest which begun in Iran last week.

More than 40 Iranian university students, mostly activists, were arrested between Dec. 30 and Jan. 4, according to credible information received by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Hardline preacher Ahmad Khatami told thousands of worshippers gathered in Tehran on Friday that “when cyberspace was closed down, the sedition was stopped,” adding that Iran nation does not support a social network that has its key in the hands of the US.

Khatami was speaking before pro-government demonstrations followed Friday prayers in Tehran and several other cities, including Tabriz and Kerman. It marked the third day of such demonstrations.

Despite the surge of demonstrations across the country, Interior Ministry spokesperson Salman Samani is still refusing to answer journalists’ questions on the situation.

Meanwhile, in New York, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said during an emergency Security Council meeting that "the voices of the Iranian people should be heard."



Interior Minister: France Faces Risk of Violence Due to Snap Election

(FILES) France's President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome Britain's prime minister on the occasion of the 36th Franco-British bilateral summit at the Elysee Palace, on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)
(FILES) France's President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome Britain's prime minister on the occasion of the 36th Franco-British bilateral summit at the Elysee Palace, on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)
TT

Interior Minister: France Faces Risk of Violence Due to Snap Election

(FILES) France's President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome Britain's prime minister on the occasion of the 36th Franco-British bilateral summit at the Elysee Palace, on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)
(FILES) France's President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome Britain's prime minister on the occasion of the 36th Franco-British bilateral summit at the Elysee Palace, on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

France could see civil unrest and violence that is related to the elections, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday as campaigning enters its last week before the first round of voting.
"It's possible that there will be extremely strong tensions," Darmanin told RTL radio, adding that authorities were preparing for a "highly inflammable" situation, with the vote taking place less than a month before the Paris 2024 Olympics.
"The people says 'no' to the Parisians, to the elites with their diplomas", Darmanin told RTL radio, according to Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron, who shocked the nation with a decision to dissolve the National Assembly earlier this month, is not on the ballot, but for many voters, the election is perceived as a referendum on the fate of a president once seen as a able to overcome political divisions, but whose approval ratings collapsed after several political crises.
"I trust you," Macron told voters in a 'letter to the French' published on Sunday in which he sought to cast his camp, lagging in the polls behind the far right and a newly formed leftwing alliance, as the last hope for stability, adding: "I'm not blind: I'm aware of the democratic malaise."
Macron also reiterated that he would stay in office until his term ends in 2027 regardless of the outcome of the election.