Iran state TV airs pro-government rallies ‘to protest violence’ during past few days

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed days of anti-government protests across the country on meddling by “enemies of Iran.” (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Iran state TV airs pro-government rallies ‘to protest violence’ during past few days

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian state media on Wednesday aired pro-government demonstrations in cities across the country after a week of protests and unrest over the nation’s poor economy — a move apparently seeking to calm nerves amid clashes that have killed 21 people.
The protests, the largest seen in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began December 28 in the city of Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest, over the weak economy and a jump in food prices. They have since expanded to cities and towns in nearly every province. Hundreds have been arrested, and a prominent judge warned that some could face the death penalty.
The English-language broadcaster Press TV broadcast Wednesday’s pro-government rallies live, saying they were to “protest the violence that has taken place over the last few nights in cities.”
Demonstrators waved Iranians flags and signs supporting Iran’s clerically overseen government.
According to state TV, the demonstrations took place in at least 10 cities, including Ahvaz, the capital of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, the Kurdish town of Kermanshah in the country’s west and Qom, the religions capital of Shiite Islam in Iran.
The rallies come after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday blamed days of protests across the country on meddling by “enemies of Iran.”
“Look at the recent days’ incidents,” Khamenei said. “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have utilized various means, including money, weapons, politics and (the) intelligence apparatus, to create problems for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.”
Khamenei avoided identifying any foreign countries, although he promised to elaborate in the coming days. Undoubtedly high on his list is the United States, where President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for the protests for several days.
Iran’s government has since shut down access to Telegram and the photo-sharing app Instagram, which now join Facebook and Twitter in being banned, in an attempt to slow the unrest.
The Trump administration called on Iran’s government to stop blocking Instagram and other popular social media sites. US Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said Instagram, Telegram and other platforms are “legitimate avenues for communication.”
The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court also reportedly warned that arrested protesters could potentially face the death penalty.
“Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying. Moharebeh is punishable by death in Iran.


Migrants aiming for Croatia blocked from border in Bosnia

Updated 11 min 13 sec ago
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Migrants aiming for Croatia blocked from border in Bosnia

  • The group wanted to enter Croatia, a European Union member, and continue west on to other EU countries
  • Bosnian police blocked the migrants from reaching the border and buses arrived later to take them back to an asylum center

IZACIC, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Several dozen migrants sought to be allowed to cross from Bosnia into Croatia Tuesday after spending the night in the open near the border between the two countries.
The group wanted to enter Croatia, a European Union member, and continue west on to other EU countries. Bosnian police blocked the migrants from reaching the border and buses arrived later to take them back to an asylum center.
Earlier, children could be heard shouting “Croatia, Croatia.”
“Our situation is very bad, so we came here because of our situation and maybe they have to understand what we are going through,” Ezent Laue, who said he was from Syria, pleaded.
Croatian police said in a statement they would not allow illegal entry to the country. They warned of false rumors being spread that Croatia’s borders would be opened to allow people to enter freely.
The migrants walked some 15 kilometers (9 miles) Monday from the asylum center to draw attention to borders remaining closed to people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
Bosnian police first stopped the group Monday evening about one kilometer (about a half-mile) from the border crossing. The migrants set up small tents, put out blankets and slept rough by the road as cars and trucks passed by.
Parents wrapped children in warm clothes and blankets to protect them from the autumn chill. Sympathetic locals offered food, beverages and blankets.
Another group of migrants set off Tuesday morning toward a separate border crossing with Croatia.
Several thousand migrants are staying in war-ravaged Bosnia unable to continue their westward journey. Migrants have turned to Bosnia to avoid more heavily guarded routes in the Balkans.
Hundreds of thousands passed through the region before countries stepped up border controls in 2016.