Protests rock Iran over economy, involvement in Middle East

Violent demonstrations have rocked Iran since Thursday, leaving more than 20 people dead, with protests that started over the economy turning against the Islamic regime as a whole, AFP reported Tuesday (January 2nd).

The wave of demonstrations that kicked off in the second city Mashhad on December 28th and quickly spread, is the biggest in the country since unrest over a disputed election in 2009.

A few hundred demonstrators gathered in Mashhad and several other towns on Thursday to protest high living costs.

Videos on reformist media showed protesters focusing their ire on President Hassan Rouhani, but there were also slogans lambasting the entire regime and Iran's involvement in conflicts around the Middle East.

The next day, larger-scale protests flared up in more cities including the western Kermanshah and Qom.

In Tehran, scuffles broke out at the city's main university and videos showed demonstrators attacking a town hall, overturning a police car and burning the Iranian flag.

On December 31st, officials said 200 people were arrested during the demonstrations in Tehran and another 80 in Arak, some 300 kilometres away.

Iranian media and officials reported that 10 people died in protests overnight Sunday into Monday.

State television said January 2nd that nine people, including a policeman, were killed in unrest overnight Monday into Tuesday.

A young member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a passerby were also reported dead in towns near the cultural hub of Isfahan city.

An official told local media meanwhile that some 450 people had been arrested in Tehran over the past three days.

Meanwhile, Iranian regime opponents held small-scale demonstrations Saturday in France and Germany to show support for the protests.

Some 40 people demonstrated near the Iranian embassy in Paris to call for an end to Tehran's "interference" in Syria and Lebanon, which Afchine Alavi, from the National Council of Iranian Resistance (CNRI), told AFP mirrored demands being made within Iran.

In Berlin, around 100 regime opponents gathered near the Iranian embassy to demand the immediate release of people arrested during three days of protests.

Around 50 people had rallied at the same venue on Friday.

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