The Latest: Iran complains about UK coverage of protests


The Latest: Iran complains about UK coverage of protests

The Associated Press
In this photo provided by Tasnim News Agency, Iranian demonstrators burn representations of U.S. and Israeli flags in a pro-government rally in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The strength of protests shaking Iran was unclear on Thursday after a week of unrest that killed at least 21 people, with fewer reports of demonstrations as government supporters again took to the streets in several cities and towns. (Nima Najafzadeh,Tasnim News Agency via AP)

The Latest on the protests in Iran (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Britain's media regulator says it is considering an official letter received from Iran's embassy in London complaining about media coverage of the protests.

The regulator, known as Ofcom, said Friday the letter is being carefully evaluated.

Iranian state media say the government is complaining about what it calls a propaganda campaign orchestrated by U.K.-based Persian-language broadcasters.

The letter asserts that the media outlets violated U.K. and international media regulations and tried to incite protesters into using violent tactics.

Ofcom has a broad regulatory role in Britain, overseeing television, radio, high-speed internet and other sectors. One of its roles is to protect British consumers from harmful content.


6 p.m.

A Russian deputy foreign minister says the upcoming U.N. Security Council session on Iran is an attempt by the United States to violate Iran's sovereignty.

Sergei Ryabkov made the comments Friday, several hours before the session is to convene.

The United States, which has voiced support for the anti-government protests that have swept Iran over the past week, called for the emergency session.

Ryabkov says "the United States continues to pursue a policy of open and implicit interference in the internal affairs of other states — doing it unabashedly, openly, under the slogan of caring for democracy and human rights, directly infringing on the sovereignty of other states,"

His comments were carried by the Interfax news agency


4 p.m.

The Islamic State group has declared support for the anti-government protests in Iran.

In its latest weekly publication, Al Nabaa, the extremists describe the protests as a "revolution against the regime" and an uprising against Wilayat al-Faqih, or Iran's system of governance by clerics.

Friday's statement also says the messages sent through the protesters to their rulers are "highly important" and that they should continue.

The Islamic State group is a Sunni extremist organization that views those who subscribe to other religions and sects, including Shiite Islam, as apostates.

IS claimed responsibility for a rare attack in Tehran in June that killed 17 people at the parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.


3:55 p.m.

A group of U.N. human rights experts is voicing concern over the deaths of more than 20 people in unrest surrounding protests in Iran and says it is "very disturbed" by the way authorities have responded to the demonstrations.

The four independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council said in a joint statement issued on Friday in Geneva that authorities should "exercise restraint."

They added that "the government's instruction to the Revolutionary Guard to hit hard against the protesters, and the judiciary's threats of harsh punishment, are unacceptable."

They said they are also very concerned about reported shutdowns of social media services such as Instagram and messaging services like Telegram, arguing that "communication blackouts constitute a serious violation of fundamental rights."


2:40 p.m.

A hard-line Iranian cleric has called on Iran to create its own indigenous social media apps, blaming them for the unrest that followed days of protest in the Islamic Republic over its economy.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami made the comments while leading Friday prayers in Tehran. He said that when the country blocked social media "the riots stopped."

Khatami says that "the nation does not support a social network that has its key in the hands of the United States." He also said he believed anyone who burned Iran's flag should be sentenced to death.

Meanwhile, state TV showed footage of pro-government rallies in cities, including Tabriz and Kerman. It marked the third day of such demonstrations.


11:55 a.m.

More pro-government rallies are planned in Iran after Friday prayers while activists have posted new videos purporting to show protests challenging the Islamic Republic's government.

Activists describe the protest videos, obtained by The Associated Press outside of Iran, as showing demonstrations in Tehran on Thursday night, including chants against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In Tehran on Friday morning, streets appeared calm ahead of noon prayers.

An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, called for by the United States, is to discuss the ongoing unrest later Friday.

At least 21 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding the protests, which began last week over rising food prices and Iran's flagging economy before spreading to cities across nearly all of Iran's provinces. Authorities have said the protests are waning.

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