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Iran Lashes Out at Its Enemies, at Home and Abroad, Amid Protests

The Islamic State also played a role, Mr. Montazeri said without explaining precisely how. He also called on clerics in the holy city of Qum to support the judiciary in a permanent ban on the messenger app Telegram, now closed in Iran. “It’s a disaster,” Mr. Montazeri said of the social media tool.

Government officials also blamed internal enemies for instigating the protests, with the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seeming to imply that a former hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was involved.

Whatever Mr. Ahmadinejad’s role, Iran’s reformist faction has accused hard-liners in the city of Mashhad of organizing the first protests to create political problems for Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani. And hard-liners have, in turn, accused Mr. Rouhani of publicizing sensitive parts of his proposed budget in a calculated move to turn ordinary people against religious institutions.

“They all blame each other,” said Nader Karimi Joni, a reformist journalist. “What else can they do?”

The death toll from the clashes rose to at least 21, and in the central province of Esfahan, a police officer was reported killed.

The United States State Department on Thursday released a new statement denouncing the government and expressing support for the protesters. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deaths to date and the arrests of at least one thousand Iranians,” it said, adding, “To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten.”

The protests, meanwhile, seemed to be winding down, though there is no sure way to tell. Fewer videos of purported demonstrations appeared on social media Thursday. But many sites have been blocked, possibly obscuring the true extent of the protests.

Iran’s government routinely filters websites and apps it deems inappropriate or dangerous, and Twitter and Facebook have been blocked since the 2009 antigovernment protests. The prosecutor said that about a million pages on social media had been banned by the authorities, but complained that the pages “mushroom under new names and colors despite more than 15,000 of them being blocked every week.”

Source: NYT > World

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