Iranian oil platform, Iran flag.
(photo credit: Reuters)
DUBAI - Anti-government protests broke out in Iran for the third day running on Saturday as separate state-sponsored rallies were staged to mark the end of unrest that shook the country in 2009, according to Iranian news agencies and state media.
State television showed a rally in the capital Tehran as well as marchers carrying banners in support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Mashhad, Iran's second largest city where protests over prices turned political on Thursday.
Iranian authorities have arrested 50 people since protests erupted across the country on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump Tweeted that "the good people of Iran" want change.
State-sponsored mass rallies were scheduled in more than 1,200 cities and towns, state TV said - events held annually to commemorate the end of months of street protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election as president.
The Iranian government declared that trains and schools will be closed on Sunday because of the protests.
Social Media reported in Farsi and Arabic that the protesters were shouting slogans that included “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, my soul for Iran” and ”Leave Syria, think of how we are doing.”
Videos on social media showed Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, where residents shouted “death to the president” and “death to the dictator.”
In Qom, a holy city to Shi'ite Muslims and one of the most religious cities in Iran, residents also joined the protest against the Islamic republic.
The Iranian authorities warned citizens not to take part in any “unlawful assemblies” and cautioned that people who take part in protests might cause problems to themselves and others.
Openly political protests are rare in the Islamic Republic, where security services are omnipresent.
But there is considerable discontent over high unemployment, inflation and alleged graft. Some of the new protests have turned political over issues including Iran's costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.
Joblessness has risen and annual inflation is running at about 8 percent, with shortages of some foods contributing to higher prices and hardship for many families.