- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 17, 2019

The supreme leader of Iran on Sunday announced his support for the government’s move to increase gas prices amid violent protests that have left at least two dead in Tehran.

The outraged protesters have taken to the streets blocking over half of the traffic in several major cities and have clashed with police over the 50% oil price increase set by the government last week.

Ayatollah Ali Khameni has said the ongoing demonstrations that have turned violent as protesters set fire to public buildings is “what thugs do.”

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“Such illegal actions would not solve any problem but add insecurity on top of other problems,” Mr. Khamenei said in an address aired on state-run television. “Lack of security is the biggest calamity for any country and society. That is what they are looking for.”

His comments come as the government instituted a country-wide internet blackout in an attempt to weaken the demonstrations.

Despite the price jump, oil in Iran continues to be sold at some of the cheapest prices in the world, according to the Associated Press. Gas is now sold at about 50 cents per gallon, compared to the average price of $2.60 in the U.S.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran praised the uprisings in at least 93 cities across the country and said the move is an attempt by the government to “hold on power through such inhuman crimes.”

The NCRI, an Iranian political organization that urges a democratic system in the country, called on the United Nations Security Council, Secretary-General, Human Rights Council, Commissioner for Human Rights to “strongly condemn this regime and take appropriate decisions in this regard.”

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