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Ayatollah In Iran Threatens To Break Up Protests Using The Paramilitary

Iranian protesters block a road during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the central city of Shiraz on November 16, 2019.

The representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader in Fars province has threatened the provincial officials that if they fail to overcome protests, he will personally head the paramilitary Basij forces to quash the unrest.

Protests that began last Friday against a sudden increase in gasoline prices have turned to a full-blown anti-regime movement, demanding clerics to get out of politics and running the affairs of the country.

Lotfollah Dezhkam, Shiraz Friday Prayer Imam
Lotfollah Dezhkam, Shiraz Friday Prayer Imam

Ayatollah Lotfollah Dezhkam, the local Friday Prayer Imam, addressing clergymen and Basij members in Shiraz, capital of Fars called the protesters “troublemakers” and said no one can say “clerics must go”. He referred to Reza Shah Pahlavi, the modernizing founder of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1920s and 30’s saying, “Even Reza Khan, with all his powers, was not able to get the turban off the heads of mullahs”.

There have been many attacks since Friday on government buildings, including offices of influential local clerics and Basij centers. Dezhkam in his remarks said that “we will not sit idle to allow just anyone to do whatever they want”.

He also claimed that many who were among the protesters say that most “troublemakers” are not from the province.

Protests and unrest in Fars have been widespread and schools in the province have remained closed.