Nine more people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran as demonstrations escalated across the country for a sixth straight day.
Iranian state television reported Tuesday that brings the death toll to at least 20 in the worst demonstrations in the country since its disputed 2009 presidential elections.
The protesters are frustrated as youth unemployment is at nearly 30 percent and Iran is spending billions of dollars in foreign interventions in Iraq and Syria.
But what began as economic protests have escalated into calls for Iran's religious leaders to step down.
In a rare show of defiance some demonstrators shouted "Death to Khamenei!"—Iran's supreme ruler.
But Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says anarchy won't be tolerated.
"The government will definitely not tolerate those groups who are after the destruction of public properties or disrupting the public order or sparking riots in the society," Rouhani said.
But the protestors are finding encouragement and support from US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!" Trump tweeted.
Trump's support of the demonstrators and condemnation of Iran's leaders contrasts sharply to President Obama's reaction in 2009. He remained silent when millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest a presidential election many Iranians believed was rigged by the regime.
On Tuesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his first comments on the demonstrations, accusing the "enemies of Iran" of meddling in the country's affairs.
A day earlier, Rouhani claimed Israel is behind the protests.
Netanyahu called the claim laughable and explained why he thought Iranians are pouring into the streets in a short video posted on YouTube.
"They seek freedom. They seek justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades. Iran's cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people," Netanyahu said.
He also blamed Europe for their silence.
"Sadly, many European governments watch in silence as heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets. That's just not right. And I, for one, will not stay silent. This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us but they won't succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom," he said.
Reprinted with permission from CBN.com. Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, all rights reserved.
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