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People May Resort To Arms, Says Prominent Intellectual As Iran Threatens Neighbors

People arrested in November protests in Iran go through the painful process of forced confessions and repentance.

Prominent Iranian intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush has said frustrated protesters in Iran may take up arms if the government refuses to meet their demands.

Speaking on the anti-government protests that have rocked Iran for longer than a week now, Soroush said: "Things like that can happen when the people cannot find any other outlet" to vent their frustration.

However, he stressed in his speech that "violence is not the solution”. Soroush lives in exile in California and his remarks were published on Saturday.

Soroush mentioned the assassination of Othman, the third Caliph of the Muslims, and said, "Anything can happen when power is monopolized and people are left with no outlet to voice their protest."

According to Radio Farda's investigation, Iranian security forces have killed at least 138 demonstrators during the past week after protests started on Friday November 15. Some 10 members of the security forces have also been killed in clashes with protestors.

A Basij militia commander who was involved in the suppression of protestors has likened the clashes to "an all-out war."

Meanwhile, Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri has said that if any one of Iran's neighboring countries was involved in instigating the protests following a sudden gas price hike, "Iran will give that country a hard time."

Earlier Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of being behind the anti-government protests. Of the three countries accused, only Saudi Arabia can be considered as Iran's neighbor.

The two top leaders branded the protestors as "thugs" and "bandits," and hardliners in Tehran have called for their execution.

Meanwhile, the Rouhani administration's spokesperson has said that the protestors "were guided by Saudi money."

In the meantime, the internet cut-off imposed by the government during the week, has been partially restored during Friday night and Saturday and social media users have started to tweet about the government's clampdown on journalist and human rights activists.

At least one journalist, Mohammad Mossaed, who tweeted about the internet blackout, has been detained and at least 6 Iranian journalists abroad have said that the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has summoned their family members and told them to force their children to give up their jobs, otherwise they might be kidnapped and returned to Iran.

The threat contains a reference to the kidnapping of an Iranian publicist, Rouhollah Zam in Iraq, who was taken to Iran by IRGC Intelligence agents in October. In another development an Iranian investigative journalist was reportedly killed in Istanbul, Turkey before the weekend.

Meanwhile, a week after protests started in Iran, officials say that the situation has calmed down, although videos aired on foreign-based satellite TV on Saturday showed demonstrations still taking place in Tehran.

In another development, political activist Abbas Abdi said in an interview with Alef website that the reason why the protests turned violent was that there is no freedom of expression in Iran for civil rights activists.

Presidential aide Laya Jonaidi has called on the government to designate a place in Tehran for protest demonstrations. A similar call was made after the nationwide protests in late 2017 and early 2018, but security officials frowned at the idea.