Trump warns Iran 'world is watching' amid rare protests

Saturday, 30 December 2017 14:12

The US has warned Iran to respect people's right to protest, as rare anti-government rallies, which began over the high cost of living, grip cities in the Islamic Republic. 

About 300 people protested in Kermanshah, a city in western Iran, on Friday, according to the semi-state news agency Fars. Police there used water cannon and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Protests also broke out in the capital, Tehran, according to social media.

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter late on Friday, writing: "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!" His tweet seemed to be an almost word-for-word copy of an earlier post by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who also warned: "The world is watching."

The US Department of State described the rallies as peaceful.

"Iran's leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos," it said in a statement. "As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are Iran's own people.

"The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption."

At the time of publishing, it remained unclear how many protesters had been arrested.