Tens of thousands of government supporters rallied across Iran on Friday, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and accusing arch-enemy the United States of instigating the biggest anti-government protests for nearly a decade, state TV reported.

Tehran’s Friday prayer leader called on authorities to deal “firmly” with those responsible for igniting over a week of demonstrations, in which 22 people were killed and more than 1,000 people were arrested, according to Iranian officials.

“But those ordinary Iranians who were deceived by these American-backed rioters should be dealt with based on Islamic clemency,” cleric Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran university, TV reported.

Khatami also called on the government to “pay more attention to people’s economic problems.”

Protests erupted on December 28 in the holy Shi‘ite city of Mashhad after the government announced plans to raise fuel prices and dismantle monthly cash handouts to lower-income Iranians.

 

Read the whole story from Reuters.

Featured image courtesy of AP

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