Iran parliament holds special meeting on deadly protests

Iran parliament holds special meeting on deadly protests
As Iran sees more pro-regime rallies, the Iranian parliament held a closed-door meeting to discuss the deadly protests that hit the country last week.

3 min read
07 January, 2018
The protests began on December 28 over economic issues [AFP]

Iran's parliament held a closed-door meeting to discuss deadly protests that hit the country last week, while more pro-regime rallies were held in several cities on Sunday.

Lawmakers interrogated Interior Minister Abdolrahmani Rahmani Fazli, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, parliament's ICANA website reported.

Some voiced concern over the internet controls put in place during the unrest, including a ban on Iran's most popular messaging app Telegram, which officials said had been used to incite violence.

"The parliament is not in favour of keeping Telegram filtering in place, but it must pledge that it will not be used as a tool by the enemies of the Iranian people," Behrouz Nemati, spokesman for the parliament's presiding board, wrote on Instagram, which was also temporarily blocked during the unrest.

Many Iranians use Telegram as their main source of news and a way of bypassing the highly restrictive state media, with almost a third of Iran's 80 million people using the app daily. 

Some 9,000 online businesses have been disrupted by the blocking, semi-official news agency ISNA reported, quoting a report by the culture ministry's digital media centre.

The protests began on 28 December over economic issues before quickly spiralling out of control and turning against the regime as a whole, leaving 21 dead and hundreds arrested. 

Pro-government rallies were again held in several cities on Sunday, this time in Qazvin, Rasht, Shahr-e Kurd and Yazd.

Tens of thousands of people have participated in similar rallies in the past few days.

The rallies are "the people's response to the rioters and troublemakers and their supporters", said state television.

It also repeated official claims that the unrest was orchestrated by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia with the complicity of "anti-revolutionary" groups.

On Saturday, Iran's foreign minister ridiculed US President Donald Trump over what he called the foreign policy "blunder" of trying to raise its recent protests at the UN Security Council.

Mohammed Javad Zarif said the Security Council "rebuffed the US' naked attempt to hijack its mandate".

"Majority emphasised the need to fully implement the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and to refrain from interfering in internal affairs of others. Another FP (foreign policy) blunder for the Trump administration," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

The US pushed for the UN meeting on Friday to discuss the five days of protests that hit Iran last week, leading to the deaths of 21 people and hundreds of arrests.

Iran's Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo slammed the meeting as a "farce" and a "waste of time" and said the council should instead focus on addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the war in Yemen.

Agencies contributed to this report.