Iran has claimed ‘victory’ after protests and loosens Internet restrictions

President Hassan Rouhani has claimed victory over the ongoing unrest in the country, Iranian state media reported, six days after nationwide protests erupted following an abrupt spike in gas prices.

Speaking at a government meeting in Tehran, Rouhani said the country had been “victorious out of yet another test” and that “despite the country’s economic problems and existing grievances,” Iran had demonstrated it “would never allow the balance to tilt in favor of the enemy”.

Iran’s government has blamed foreign enemies for the recent unrest – the severity of which remains unclear. Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces, a figure rejected as “fabricated” by Iran’s government.

Rouhani has suggested that the protesters were not Iranians but anti-government forces “pre-planned by the reactionary regional regimes, the Zionists, and the Americans.” And Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the protests were related to security issues, rather than a movement by the Iranian people, and that “both friends and foes should know that we have repelled the enemy,” state news agency IRNA reported.

Today Iran began restoring internet access in the capital and a number of provinces after a five-day nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle deadly protests over fuel-price hikes. Iranian officials said the steep fuel-price increase was imperative because of crippling American sanctions devastating its oil-based economy, and the money raised would be given to the nation’s poorest people.