TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised rallies held to condemn recent riots and acts of vandalism in the country and said the Iranian people will never support violence.

“Whatever we have has its roots in the (Iranian) people and the security of the country,” Zarif said in a speech in Tehran on Monday.

Because of these people, Iran is the only secure and calm country in the region, the Iranian top diplomat added.

He further pointed to the civil protests over price hikes and said the Iranian officials should pay heed to the demands of the people, “who distance themselves from moves to disturb the country’s order and never side with violence”.

In late December, peaceful protests over economic problems broke out in a number of Iranian cities, but the gatherings turned violent when groups of participants, some of them armed, vandalized public property and launched attacks on police stations and government buildings.

Security forces say many rioters arrested in the recent unrest have been trained by the MKO terrorists or had links with the Takfiri terrorist groups.

Following the unrest, people held several demonstrations across the country to condemn the violent riots and acts of vandalism, and voice support for the Islamic Republic’s Establishment.

Iranian officials maintain that people have the right to stage protests to express their opinions as long as rallies comply with the legal conditions.