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Iran Protests Continue Despite Some Reports Indicating a Slowdown

Anti-government protests in Iran have left at least 20 people dead

Protests in Iran continued for the seventh consecutive day on January 3rd, despite heavy security all around the country.

According to reports from inside Iran, protesters succeeded to hold protests in nearly 10 cities including half a dozen districts in the capital city, Tehran.

Ahwaz, Isfahan, Dezful and Bandar Abbas were a few of the cities that were sites of continued protests.

Amol Protest; January 03

Most recently, the Islamic Republic officials have apparently tried to downplay the number of participants in the protests. IRGC commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has said they were 15 thousand people takeing part in protests in all locations put together.

Interior Minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, has announced a higher number of 45 thousand and senior Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi went as low as six thousand.

The big contradiction in these numbers are also hard to miss.

Verified videos show that in some locations thousands of people are marching. For example, a video from Rasht from December 31, shows one of the main avenues in the city filled with thousands of protesters, stretching nearly a mile. This is only one city among dozens where protests have taken place.

Rasht Protest December 31, showing a large crowd

Meanwhile users in different cities confirmed that the internet speed has been considerably slowed down and satellite channels are heavily jammed.

In the absence of Telegram and Instagram, both blocked by Hassan Rouhani’s government, Iranian users have struggled to keep sending video clips via internet resorting to anti-filtering software.

This could have contributed to an impression that fewer protests are taking place,. There is also no doubt that authorities have deployed tens of thousands of security forces, trying to intimidate would be protesters.

Noshahr Protest; January 03

As the unexpected wave of demonstrators continued, more factions inside the Islamic Republic have taken side with the government calling protesters “hooligans and hoodlums”.

Previously, the Assembly of Combatant Clerics, headed by former President Mohammad Khatami, had warned against those they described as “opportunist elements and rioters” and Rouhani himself said “people are going to sweep this crowd”.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has hinted that he is going to address the nation about the protests. In 2009, a similar speech by Mr. Khamenei was followed by a brutal crack down on demonstrators.