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Pro-government rallies in Iran after days of protest, unrest

TEHRAN - Iranian state media on Wednesday aired pro-government demonstrations in cities across the country after a week of protests and unrest over the nation's poor economy -- a move apparently seeking to calm nerves amid clashes that have killed 21 people.

 

The protests, the largest seen in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began Dec. 28 in the city of Mashhad, Iran's second-largest,
over the weak economy and a jump in food prices. They have since expanded to cities and towns in nearly every province. Hundreds have been arrested, and a prominent judge warned that some could face the death penalty.

 

The English-language broadcaster Press TV broadcast Wednesday's pro-government rallies live, saying they were to "protest the violence that has taken place over the last few nights in cities."

 

Demonstrators waved Iranians flags and signs supporting Iran's clerically overseen government.

 

According to state TV, the demonstrations took place in at least 10 cities, including Ahvaz, the capital of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, the Kurdish town of Kermanshah in the country's west and Qom, the religions capital of Shiite Islam in Iran.