Opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hold a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in west London – Reuters/Eddie Keogh
CAIRO – 2 January 2018: Iranian authorities say hundreds have been arrested in rioting and demonstrations that have swept across Iran, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames the challenge to his rule on the intervention of foreign rivals. Matthew Larotonda reports.
The crackdown against mass protests that have swept Iran appears to be intensifying.
It's said to show attacks on multiple police stations.
Local authorities say over 450 have been arrested since Saturday (December 30) in Tehran alone.
Hundreds more are detained across the country in the biggest challenge to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's rule in almost a decade.
At least 14 are dead, including a member of the security services.
These protests began last week over alleged corruption and economic hardship, which has especially hit the young -- the people taking to the streets.
Just under 30 percent of Iranian young people are unemployed, according to the government.
Now the anger has morphed into political rallies which include opposition to Iran's increased role in world affairs, such as its deep involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Protesters say the country should turn inward and put its efforts into making things right at home.
The crisis has drawn mixed responses from Iran's leaders.
Both President Hassan Rouhani and the Ayatollah have blamed foreign powers for fomenting the unrest.
The latter stating on Tuesday (January 2) that spies and political operatives had created the situation.
But Rouhani himself has been more nuanced, calling for restraint from both protesters and security forces.
He also implied that the protesters weren't targeting his government specifically but the more hardline establishment, including his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani says the young people don't just want more jobs, but what he called, more "freedom."