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Iran’s Top Ayatollah Backs Price Hike that Set Off Protests

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says last week’s 50 percent increase in gasoline prices was based on the input of experts, and that “Iran’s enemies” were behind most of the protests against the move. “Some people are no doubt worried by this decision,” he was quoted as saying by state television on Sunday, “but sabotage and arson is done by hooligans, not our people. The counter-revolution and Iran’s enemies have always supported sabotage and breaches of security and continue to do so.” At the same time, he suggested that prices on other goods be left alone. The fuel price hikes were announced on Friday, and on Saturday, mass protests broke out in Tehran and other Iranian cities. Official sources say one protester was killed when security forces intervened, but reports on social media say there may have been additional deaths. As a result, authorities have closed down much of the country’s internet services.