Al-Monitor – On Nov. 15, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced a reduction in the gasoline subsidy, sparking protests across the country. Authorities shut down much of the country’s access to the internet as protests raged for a third day Nov. 17. Despite the large backlash, seen through street protests that quickly took an anti-government tone, administration officials and the supreme leader insisted that the reduction in subsidies will move forward.
“Because the expert views on the gasoline situation is varied — some say it is necessary and some say it is detrimental — and since I am not an expert on this I said if the three branches agree, then I will support it,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, lending support to the policy Nov. 17 in a televised speech. Ayatollah Khamenei’s response, the heavy presence of riot police and the shutting down of the internet suggests authorities had anticipated there would be protests against the reduction in subsidies.
Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Certainly some people will be worried about these decisions” but added, “The burning of banks is not the work of the people but the work of thugs.” He said there have been deaths and destruction of a number of buildings as a result of the protests. Ayatollah Khamenei attacked both the family members of the pre-Revolution Pahlavi government and members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq for instigating protests online.
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