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Iran Protest
In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, a university student attends a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by anti-riot Iranian police, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran's weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic's clerical establishment. (AP Photo)

Iranian protesters get support from international demonstrations


Updated January 06, 2018 12:30 PM EST

The historic protests in Iran have spread beyond the country's borders, as Iranian expatriates and other supporters across globe have staged their own demonstrations to show their support.

One such demonstration is set to take plane in Washington, D.C., just outside the White House, where Iranian Americans are expected to voice their support for the week-long protests occurring in their ancestral homeland. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, are expected to speak at the event.

"Calling for the overthrow of the ruling religious dictatorship, as demanded by the protesters in Iran, the participants will also call on the U.S. administration and the international community to take specific and urgent measure to stop the Iranian regime's brutal suppression of the freedom-seeking demonstrators in some 80 cities across Iran," said the Organization of Iranian-American Communities - U.S. (OIAC) on the demonstration's Eventbrite page.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the anti-government protests began in late December, while another 21 have been killed, according to the BBC.

The protesters appear to have various reasons for their frustration with the Iranian regime. While resistance organizations like OIAC claim Iranians are fed up with the theocratic, authoritarian leadership, other reports claim the poor economic situation is to blame. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected with the expectation that he would help improve the country's stagnant economy. The signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, and the sanctions relief that came with it, was supposed to improve the livelihoods of the average Iranian, however, the regime's continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and meddling abroad has caused the U.S. and international community to apply new sanctions.

Support protests have also been seen in countries like the U.K. and Germany. Many of those in attendance fled Iran after the 1979 revolution, which ousted the U.S.-backed shah and replaced him with the current theocratic regime. Some are the children of the millions who had to leave. Like the protesters inside Iran, they tend to be very young.

"I left when I was about 11 years old. We had to flee Iran because obviously my family was in danger," said Nagmeh Rajavi, who attended a rally in London. "They had executed two of my aunts and other members of my family as well.”

She noted that it was her "responsibility" to as a young person living in a democratic country to show support for Iran's "voiceless people."

Some protesters have called on the U.S. and other Western powers to voice their support for the anti-government protesters.

"It is essential that western powers, Britain, Britain take a lead role and America and all the western powers come and back the Iranian people here because it's only with their backing that the Iranian people will feel secure and can go the way in securing their freedom and the overthrow of this regime," said Omid Ebrahimi, another attendee of the U.K. demonstration.

Several world leaders, including President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have voiced their support for the protesters.

In response, the Iranian government has criticized the anti-government demonstrators as pawns of foreign powers. Tens of thousands of Iranians have also staged counter-protests in support of the government.

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