White House: Iranian protesters 'deserve to be heard'

White House: Iranian protesters 'deserve to be heard'

The White House again voiced its support on Sunday for the people in Iran protesting the country's government while criticizing any efforts by Tehran to censor them.

"We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully. Their voices deserve to be heard," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

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"We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship," she continued.

The statement comes shortly after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani first acknowledged the protests on Sunday.

“People are absolutely free to criticize the government and protest, but their protests should be in such a way as to improve the situation in the country and their life,” Rouhani told his Cabinet, according to reports citing the official Islamic Republic News Agency. 

“Criticism is different from violence and damaging public properties,” he added.

Rouhani also took aim at President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE for his earlier comments in which, in Rouhani's view, Trump called "the Iranian nation terrorists."

“This man in America who is sympathizing today with our people has forgotten that he called the Iranian nation terrorists a few months ago. This man who is against the Iranian nation to his core has no right to sympathize with Iranians,” he continued.

The Iranian government has reportedly cracked down on social media use in the state in order to mollify the demonstrations that have spiked up across the country.

Tens of thousands of people have joined the protests against the clerical leadership and the state of the economy since the demonstrations began on Thursday. The protests turned deadly on Saturday night in Dorud in a shooting as protesters and police clashed.

Trump has repeatedly voiced support of the protests while slamming Iran for funding terrorist organizations.

"Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!" Trump tweeted Friday.