The rallies come after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday blamed days of protests across the country on meddling by “enemies of Iran.”
“Look at the recent days’ incidents,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have utilized various means, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus, to create problems for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.”
Ayatollah Khamenei avoided identifying any foreign countries, although he promised to elaborate in the coming days. Undoubtedly high on his list is the United States, where President Trump has tweeted his support for the protests for several days.
Iran’s government has since shut down access to the messaging service Telegram and the photo-sharing app Instagram in an attempt to slow the unrest. Facebook and Twitter had already been banned.
The Trump administration called on Iran’s government to stop blocking Instagram and other popular social media sites. Steve Goldstein, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, said Instagram, Telegram and other platforms were “legitimate avenues for communication.”
The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court also reportedly warned that protesters could face the death penalty.
“Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency quoted the court official, Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, as saying. Moharebeh is punishable by death in Iran.