Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that government bodies must provide “space for criticism” as he sought to head off days of unrest, but warned protesters that violence was unacceptable.
“Criticism is different to violence and destroying public property,” he said in a cabinet meeting, according to the state broadcaster.
“Government bodies should provide space for legal criticism and protest,” Rouhani said in his first public comments since the protests began on Thursday.
“The point should be made clear to everyone that we are a free nation and according to the constitution… the people are absolutely free in expressing their criticisms and even protests,” he said.
“At the same time we should not allow for an atmosphere to be created in which the supporters of the revolution and the people are worried about their lives and security.”
Several hundred people gathered in Tehran and the western city of Khorramabad on Sunday evening in the fourth day of demonstrations.