Khamenei voices support for gas hike, blames ‘counter-revolution’ for ‘sabotage’
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei says that a gasoline price increase should be implemented, blaming the “counter-revolution and enemies” for “sabotage,” Iranian state TV reported on Sunday.
Khamenei also called those setting fire to public property ‘bandits.’
“I have no background in this topic … but I had said that if the heads of the three branches of government make a decision that I would support it,” said Khamenei, adding: “The heads of the government have made a decision which of course should be implemented.”
“Some people will certainly be unhappy with this decision. However, damaging and setting fire [to public property] is not the work of the people, but bandits,” he said.
“The counter-revolution and the enemies of Iran have always supported such sabotage and insecurity, and now they are busy doing just that,” said Khamenei.
The “vigilant” people of Iran should “keep away from those who cause damage [to public property],” he said.
Several protests erutped across Iranian cities on Saturday, with many protesters blocking main roads with their cars and burning tyres while chanting “Death to the dictator,” a day after the government announced a surprise decision to ration and hike the price of petrol.
At least 25 people have reportedly been killed since the demonstrations began, and dozens are being treated for injuries.
Khamenei said that for the past two days “all the centers of the world’s wickedness against us have cheered” the unrest.
These included the Pahlavi royal family ousted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) group, which he called a “terrorist” cult.
“What I am asking is that no one help these criminals,” he said, calling on people to distance themselves from those stoking the unrest.
Protests have erupted in at least 37 cities, including Mashhad, Sirjan, Poldokhtar, Ahwaz, Abadan, Khoramshahr, Tabriz, Shiraz, Isfahan, Birjand, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Shar-e Quds, Damavand, Sanandaj, Bandar Rig, Yazd, Babol, Rasht, Urmia, Garmsar, Neyshabur, Saqqez, Chabahar, Ahar, Rudehen, Eslamshahr, Tehran, Gachsaran, Zahedan, Fardis, Qazvin, Hamedan, Khorramabad, and Kermanshah.
Iran imposed petrol rationing and raised pump prices by at least 50 percent on Friday, saying the move was aimed at helping citizens in need with cash handouts.