Donald Trump Heats Up Feud With Iran By Praising Anti-Government Protests

Iranian officials call Trump's support of protesters in the country "deceitful" and "opportunist."
Carlos Barria / Reuters

The Iranian government denounced President Donald Trump on Saturday after he escalated his support for the anti-government protesters who have been holding demonstrations in the country for three days.

Trump tweeted Friday his praise of the “peaceful protests” in Iran, calling protesters “Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad.”

On Saturday, the president tweeted two video clips of his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, in which he called the Iranian government an “oppressive regime” and suggested that Iran’s leaders are afraid of their own citizens.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi responded to Trump’s amped-up support in a state television report Saturday by insisting that “Iranian people give no credit to the deceitful and opportunist remarks of U.S. officials or Mr. Trump,” according to The Associated Press.

Protests first broke out in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, earlier this week when demonstrators swarmed the streets in protest of rising food and gas prices, high unemployment and the declining economy, according to The Washington Post and CNN.

The rally sparked more protests, drawing thousands of protesters in cities across Iran, including its capital, Tehran. News reports and videos that purportedly showed the demonstrations suggest that some of the rallies have turned violent.

It is the largest display of civil unrest in the country since the protests after Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

After Trump tweeted Friday that the Iranian government should respect its people’s rights to express themselves, Iran’s state-run TV service addressed the widespread protests with a message Saturday.

“Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said, according to AP.

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