Tehran – A senior Iranian cleric said on Friday during prayers in Tehran that some of the leaders of the recent protests over fuel price hikes deserved to be given death sentence.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said that “some of the leaders of the unrest were anarchists that deserve a death sentence,’’ adding that the worst of the protesters were the ones attacking mosques and other Islamic institutions.
The protests erupted on Nov. 16, 2019 shortly after the government unexpectedly announced a price increase that roughly tripled the cost of petrol.
Earlier, Iran’s Interior Minister Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli announced the sudden 300 per cent increase in the price of gasoline saying that it was a decision by the country’s High Council for Economic Coordination.
Fazli however said that the aim was to generate revenue for the central government, which has lost billions of dollars of income from recently reimposed international sanctions on oil exports.
The government has also cut petrol subsidies to thousands of poor people in a nation where many families make a living as informal taxi drivers.
Despite the subsidy cuts and price-rises, fuel in Iran still remains among the cheapest in the world thanks to the country having the fourth-largest oil reserves.
In an attempt to stem the unrest, authorities shut down most domestic internet access.