Tehran (TeleSUR– Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iranian people are “completely free” to protest and encouraged such protests to be constructive in their criticism of Iran’s government.

“We are a free nation and based on the Constitution and citizenship rights, people are completely free to express their criticism and even their protest,” Rouhani said while addressing a Cabinet session on Sunday.

“The Iranian people have the right to voice their criticism with regard to all affairs,” Rouhani said, adding, “We believe that the government and the country belong to the people and the people must properly express what they want.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Some groups of Iranian protesters have held rallies in various cities to protest rising prices and poor economic conditions in the country. The protests have been widely seized on and reported by Western media, and have received the praise of U.S. politicians, including President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump Tweeted that “the good people of Iran want change … The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!”

Mass pro-government rallies in support of the Iranian government have also been held.

Rouhani responded to Trump’s remarks, saying he has “no right to feel sorry for the people of Iran.”

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“This man who today in America wants to sympathize with our people has forgotten that a few months ago he called the Iranian nation terrorist,” Rouhani said.

Two people have been killed in protests, and a regional official has said that Wahhabi groups and foreign intelligence services seem to be behind the killings. The official has said that “no bullet was fired” by Iranian military and police.

This post was originally written for and published by TeleSUR English.