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In jab at rivals, Rouhani says Iran protests about more than economy

From Reuters - January 8, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) - In a swipe at his hardline rivals, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday young Iranian protesters were unhappy about far more than just the economy and they would no longer defer to the views and lifestyle of an aging revolutionary elite.

The pragmatic cleric, who defeated anti-Western hardliners to win re-election last year, also called for the lifting of curbs on social media used by anti-government protesters in the most sustained challenge to conservative authorities since 2009.

It would be a misrepresentation (of events) and also an insult to Iranian people to say they only had economic demands, Rouhani was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

People had economic, political and social demands.

Rouhani, 69, suggested there was a generational element to the unrest, which appears to have been spearheaded by under-25s.

We cannot pick a lifestyle and tell two generations after us to live like that. It is impossible... The views of the young generation about life and the world is different than ours, he said.

The Revolutionary Guards, Irans security backbone since the 1979 revolution that created the Islamic Republic, said on Sunday the security forces had put an end to a week of unrest fomented by what it called foreign enemies.

The protests, which began over economic hardships suffered by the young and working class, spread to more than 80 cities and towns and has resulted in 22 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests, according to Iranian officials.

Hamid Shahriari, the deputy head of the Judiciary said that all ringleaders of the protests had been identified and arrested, and they would be firmly punished and might face capital punishment.

Two Iranian lawmakers said on Monday that a 22-year-old detainee has died in prison.

The director of the Prisons Organization, Mostafa Mohebbi, confirmed the death on the judiciarys official website and said Sina Ghanbari has hanged himself in a toilet on Saturday.

Many of the protesters questioned Irans foreign policy in the Middle East, where it has intervened in Syria and Iraq in a battle for influence with rival Saudi Arabia.

IRANIANS CAN CRITICIZE EVERYONE

The countrys financial support for Palestinians and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah also angered Iranians, who want their government to focus on domestic economic problems instead.

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