TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The largest protests to strike Iran in nearly a decade continued unabated Sunday, despite a government move to block access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize, with even President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy.
Rouhani and other leaders made a point to warn that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers amid the demonstrations, which began Thursday over the economic woes plaguing Iran.
“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
The outpouring of public discontent - the most widespread since protests following Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election -have been fanned by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by tech giant Facebook.
Many in Iran are learning about the protests and sharing images of them through Telegram, a mobile-phone messaging app popular among the country’s 80 million people. On Saturday, Telegram shut down one channel of the service over Iranian government allegations that it encouraged violence, something its moderator denied.