On Thursday, December 28, 2017, thousands of Iranian citizens began protesting government corruption and a poor economy. Although the exact number of participants remains unclear, the protests are the largest in recent Iranian history.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the uprising:
1. How did the protests in Iran start?
The uprising started on Thursday, December 28, 2017, in the city of Mashhad as demonstrators took to the street to protest rising prices, high unemployment rates, and corruption within Iran’s government.
Comprised of adults mostly under the age of 40, the protests are believed to have started on social media, which led to the Iranian government to shut down the internet to stop the protests from escalating.
By the following weekend, the protests had spread nationwide across Iran, including to areas that are considered strongholds for the government.
2. What do the protesters want?
Peaceful demonstrators are demanding the removal of the current regime, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as evidenced by chants from the crowds which include calls for the death of the "Islamic" Republic, Hezbollah, and Khamenei.
3. What are the people on the ground chanting?
The following quotes were pulled from Iranian protesters before Iran shut the internet down and translated by The Wall Street Journal:
- “We don’t want the Islamic Republic, we don’t want it, we don’t want it.”
- “They are using Islam as an excuse to drive people crazy.”
- “Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic.”
- “Reformists, hard-liners, the game is over.”
- “We are getting poor and clerics are driving fancy cars.”
- “Reza Shah, Rest in Peace.”
- “We will die but we will take Iran back.”
- “Come out to the streets Iranians, shout for your rights.”
- “Death to the Revolutionary Guards.”
4. How has the Iranian government responded?
Reports vary on the response from the government, however, some indicate that the protests are more peaceful than riots in previous years, while new reports indicate that approximately 20 protesters have died, according to two separate reports from the Associated Press.
"I do not know whether yesterday’s shooting was done by rally participants or the police and this issue is being investigated,” said Hedayatollah Khademi, according to Reuters.
The WSJ adds that some leaders have acknowledged the legitimate economic problems that face the country, which has an unemployment rate of more than 12%.
Latest update: 450 people arrested over 3 days
5. How has the world responded to the situation?
The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a short statement on Saturday, saying it was "closely monitoring" the protests and calling "on the Iranian authorities to uphold and respect democratic and human rights".
"Canada is encouraged by the Iranian people who are exercising their basic right to protest peacefully," Global Affairs Canada said.
"Canada will continue to support the fundamental rights of Iranians, including the right to freedom of expression."
Solidarity protests have also taken place in France and Germany.