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Iran Protests Target Basij Religious Schools, Offices

Iran Protests Target Basij Religious Schools, Offices

Tuesday, 2 January, 2018 - 07:45
Students scuffle with police at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems in the Iranian capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AP)
London, Washington - Adel al-Salmi and Heba El Koudsy
The level of protests in Iran escalated on Monday after demonstrators ignored President Hassan Rouhani’s calls for calm and instead attacked a religious school and offices for the Basij, in the absence of any accurate information about the number of victims in their ranks.

Protests continued to take to the streets of Tehran, Tabriz, Ardabil, Karaj, Abadan and Ahwaz despite the tight security measures.

In the country's second-largest city of Mashhad, where demonstrations first kicked off on Thursday in protest against a surge in the prices of basic food supplies, activists said that it has turned into a large military base.

Demonstrations also spread to other cities, including Bandar Abbas, Kermanshah, Yassouj, Zanjan, Takestan, Izeh and Shahin Shahr.

Iranian authorities later announced they were suspending schools in several cities for the third consecutive day on Sunday.

Video footage posted on social media showed protestors attacking public buildings, including religious centers and a Hawza (religious school) in Tuyserkan, in addition to banks owned by the Basij, a paramilitary militia of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Other footage showed demonstrators burning police cars.

Reports later said that one police officer was killed and three others were injured in the Najaf Abad city in the province of Isfahan, while conflicting information emerged concerning the number of victims that fell among the ranks of protestors.

Official news agencies said that 10 Iranians were killed overnight Monday, while other sources asserted that at least 15 people were killed.

Despite the widening of the demonstrations on Monday, Ramadan Sharif, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that the police and internal security forces "fully control the situation in Tehran and other cities where street protests took place."

Separately, and following reports about the suspension of the internet service in several cities, the Amad News channel, which played a leading role in mobilizing the people to protest in the streets, said the US may launch a satellite that provides free services for internet users in Iran.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said Monday it was “time for change” in Iran, adding that Iran is failing at every level “despite the terrible deal” made with them by the Obama Administration.

“The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

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