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Iran Live Blog: Foreign Minister Warns Foreigners Not To Foment Protests


Demonstrators rally in support of Iranian antigovernment protests in Stockholm, Sweden, over the weekend.

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Final Summary

-- A top Iranian judiciary official has said antigovernment protest leaders should be handed the harshest possible sentences, while President Hassan Rohani suggested demonstrations were driven by opposition to his ultraconservative rivals in the ruling elite.

-- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also weighed in on the matter, warning other countries not to foment insecurity in his country, echoing the official position of the Iranian government that the protests were fomented by the intelligence services of foreign states-- including the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

-- The United States has rejected Iran’s claims that Washington was behind the protests, which have led to the deaths of 22 people and the arrest of more than 1,700 others.

-- German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said the European Union will invite Zarif for talks about the widespread antigovernment protests that have roiled the country since December 2

-- Lawmaker Tayebeh Siavashi told the semiofficial ILNA news agency on January 8 that a 22-year-old man who was arrested by the police had died in prison. He said that he was informed by authorities that the detainee "committed suicide in jail."

-- Various Iranian officials have said that hundreds of detainees have been released, some after agreeing to sign a pledge not to "reoffend," the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.

-- In other news, a senior Iranian education official says Iran intends to ban English-language classes from primary schools amid warnings from Islamic leaders that the language has led to a "cultural invasion" from the West.

Live blog by Golnaz Esfandiari with Farangis Najibullah and Frud Bezhan

*NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Tehran (GMT +3.5)

Protest Outside Evin Prison

People are protesting today outside of Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Among the protesters are parents whose children have been detained following the government's crackdown on antigovernment protests. Some parents have been protesting for days and have erected tents outside the prison.

Dozens of people protest outside the Iranian embassy in London.

People are holding a rally in the Austrian capital, Vienna, in support of the antigovernment protesters in Iran.

Students' Names Released

The U.S.-based United For Iran human rights organization has released the names of Iranian students arrested in recent days.

Special Parliamentary Session

Iran's parliament to scheduled to hold a special session to look into the causes of the antigovernment protests.

The interior minister, the head of intelligence, and the security council chief are all expected to attend, reports ISNA. The session is scheduled for January 7.

Ministry 'Working' To Release Students

Iran's Science Minister Mansour Gholami said that about a quarter of the students arrested during the antigovernment protests have since been released, though he failed to give any exact numbers.

The ministry is "working to obtain the release of all students," Gholami told the online news portal Etemaadonline.

Student Arrests

Tehran University Vice-President Majid Sarsangi told ISNA news agency that the university had set up a committee to track the fate of students arrested during the antigovernment protests.

"Our efforts at the university are aimed at cooperating with the relevant authorities to create the conditions for the return of the detained students to the university and their families in the shortest possible time," Sarsangi said on January 6.

Detainees 'Freed'

Alireza Rashidian, the governor of Khorasan Province, in northeast Iran, says 85 percent of protesters detained there have been freed after signing a pledge not to re-offend, via the ISNA news agency.

The provincial capital, Mashhad, was where the first protests erupted on December 28. Since then there have been several antigovernment protests there.

"Those with a criminal record, or those charged with sabotage such a setting fire to motorcycles or damaging public buildings have been referred to judicial authorities," said Rashidian.

Based on figures announced by various officials, more than 1,700 people have been arrested since the start of unrest. The real number might be much higher, since provincial officials often do not provide exact figures.

Instagram Unblocked

Iranians say they can access Instagram again after it was blocked for the past week. The government has suspended access to the messaging app Telegram. Twitter and Facebook were already banned.

Pro-government Rallies

Iran's state broadcaster has showed pro-government rallies in several cities, including in Amol, in the northern province of Mazandaram, with hundreds of people waving the Iranian flag and chanting slogans against the U.S. and Israel.

Other pro-government demonstrations were held in Shahin Dezh, in West Azarbaijan Province; the city of Semnan, in the northern Semnan Province; and Shadegan, in the southern Khuzestan Province.

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