About 3700 people arrested during Iran protests, legislator says

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives an interview to The Associated Press at his office in Tehran Iran Saturday

A reformist legislator in Iran has said 3,700 people were arrested in the days of protests and unrest that have shook the country over the past two weeks - a far higher number than authorities previously released.

Previously, authorities have said "hundreds" were arrested in Tehran alone, not offering a total figure for arrests as the demonstrations spread into the Iranian countryside, including small towns. United States officials had put the number held at 1,000.

In a series of tweets earlier Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, criticized Trump for tweeting his concerns about the protests and his statements about the intentions of the Iranian people.

"Revolution politically uprooted the enemy and now the enemy continues these attacks but always fails and can not achieve its goals", said Khamenei in a speech made before thousands in Tehran, according to the semi-official MEHR News agency. Tens of thousands took part in subsequent pro-government rallies to support the establishment leadership.

"This is due to our people's continued support".

"Today I joined my colleagues in standing with the people of Iran against the oppressive and radical regime in Tehran". He also urged the UK's "friends in the White House not to throw away" a nuclear deal with Iran that Trump has pledged to decertify. "And this House never agreed to ignore extreme human rights abuses simply because the government of Iran has agreed to limitations on its nuclear program".

The University of Tehran was working to track and secure the release of its students who had been detained, according to the semiofficial Iranian Students' News Agency.

It is in this context that Washington's response to the recent wave of protests against the government in Tehran must be understood, even though said protests - at least initially - have been rooted in legitimate grievances; grievances which the country's president, Hassan Rouhani, has readily admitted to.

Tehran and Washington have engaged in a fiery exchange of words over U.S. use of social media to encourage Iranians to protest.

The United States and Israel have expressed support for the protests, which began on December 28 in Iran's second largest city, Mashhad, but deny Iranian government allegations that they fomented them.

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