ThinkProgress

Economic unrest spark protests in Iran

Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. Iranian hard-liners rallied Saturday to support the country's supreme leader and clerically overseen government as spontaneous protests sparked by anger over the country's ailing economy roiled major cities in the Islamic Republic. CREDIT: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

Protests have erupted in cities across Iran with thousands chanting against the government and the state of the Islamic Republic’s weak economy.

The protests began on Thursday in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad and appear to have been sparked by social media and rising costs of basic food items, according to the Associated Press. The demonstrations have been met by police in several areas, with at least 50 protesters being arrested since Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The protests appear to be the largest since millions of Iranians protested the re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over fraud allegations in 2009.

President Trump — who has been fighting to restrict Iranian nationals from entering the US, ordered the decertification of a nuclear agreement with the country despite its compliance, and has attempted to silence peaceful protests domestically  — urged the Iranian protesters on Twitter Friday evening and Saturday.

Iranian hardliners have attempted to counter the latest protests in support for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other government officials, according to the New York Times.