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Iran’s president acknowledges protests, calls on demonstrators to avoid violence

Iran’s president acknowledges protests, calls on demonstrators to avoid violence
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Iran's president on Sunday offered his first public remarks on the demonstrations in his country, saying Iranians participating in anti-government protests have the right to voice their concerns, but that they should resist violence.

President Hassan Rouhani's first public reaction comes after four days of demonstrations during which tens of thousands of people protested against the country's clerical leadership and the state of the economy.

“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 (IRNA) news agency.

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

The protests on Sunday come even after Iranian authorities warned there would be a crackdown. 

“Resolving the problems is not easy and would take time. The government and people should help each other to resolve the issues,” Rouhani said, according to the reports.

Rouhani also reportedly blasted President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE for his public comments supporting the protests — the largest movement against the Iranian government in years.

“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.

Trump has repeatedly tweeted about the protests while slamming Iran for funding terrorist organizations.

The protests turned deadly after two people were reported killed and others injured in a shooting by police on Saturday night.

Protesters were overheard shouting “death to Rouhani,” and “death to Khamenei” — a reference to the president and Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian government has also reportedly cracked down on social media use in the country in order to mollify the demonstrations.