TEHRAN (Dispatches) — Leader of the Islamic Revolution Seyyed Ali Khamenei called Wednesday for those detained in recent gasoline price protests to be treated with "Islamic clemency” even after authorities said several police and security forces had been killed by armed saboteurs.
"The faster these cases are considered, the better and those who are suspected of being close to any group should be dealt with in a way that is closer to Islamic mercy,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, responding to a report on the unrest from the country’s Supreme National Security Council.
Ayatollah Khamenei also said citizens killed in the protests "without playing any part in instigating them” should be considered martyrs and their families should receive government stipends. Those "killed in shootouts with security forces” also should have their backgrounds examined, the Leader said.
Authorities should "console those families that have never had any criminal backgrounds,” the Leader added.
Just after the protests began, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the right to peaceful assembly is enshrined under the Iranian constitution, but "setting a bank on fire is not an act done by the people. This is what thugs do.”
The demonstrations began Nov. 15 after the government raised minimum gasoline prices by 50% to 15,000 Iranian rials per liter. That’s 12 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. After a monthly 60-liter quota, it costs 30,000 rials a liter. That’s nearly 24 cents a liter or 90 cents a gallon. An average gallon of regular gas in the U.S. costs $2.58 by comparison, according to AAA.
The government of President Hassan Rouhani pushed for the gasoline-price hike, saying they’d use the money for a new support program for Iran’s poor.
Chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hussein Salami on Wednesday touched on the enemy’s latest plot to provoke unrest in Iran, saying the nation once again slapped the U.S. and other arrogant powers in the face by nipping foreign-backed riots in the bud.
"In the past weeks, the Iranian nation once again slapped the arrogance — especially the U.S. — in the face,” he said at Azadi Stadium in Tehran during a commemoration ceremony for 92,000 martyrs of Iran’s volunteer Basij Force.
The IRGC chief was referring to the Iranian people’s response to the violent riots that hit a number of Iranian cities last month.
"This is Iran, which has stood firm in defending its national and Islamic values,” he said.
Salami further said the enemies are attempting to incite "sedition” in Iran with the goal of "making up for its successive defeats against the Iranian people”.
The enemies seek to portray the chaos in Iran as an outcome of "psychological pressure” on Iranians caused by Washington’s so-called maximum pressure campaign, he said.
The Iranian people, however, managed to once again turn the enemy threat into an opportunity as they "were well aware that Iran faces a security risk whenever the enemies infiltrate into the country from abroad,” he added.
"The enemy thought that the nation would be pitted against the establishment. Its calculations have always been wrong about the Iranians, who are aware of the nature of U.S. polices,” he said.
The IRGC chief then pointed to similar conspiracies targeting other regional nations such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Touching on the developments in Lebanon, Salami praised Hezbollah for standing firm against the Israeli regime, saying the resistance movement will successfully thwart any Zionist plot against the Arab country.
The Syrians, he stressed, have been defending their homeland, while the Iraqis are defending their religious identity and national dignity against Saudi-American conspiracies.
In Bahrain, people are defying the Al Khalifah rulers in pursuit of freedom and independence, while the Yemeni people have overwhelmed the Saudis and the Emiratis by putting up resistance in the face of their deadly military campaign.