The Latest: Iran cleric blames social media for protests

The Latest on the protests in Iran (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

A hard-line Iranian cleric has called on Iran to create its own indigenous social media apps, blaming them for the unrest that followed days of protest in the Islamic Republic over its economy.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami made the comments while leading Friday prayers in Tehran. He said that when the country blocked social media "the riots stopped."

Khatami says that "the nation does not support a social network that its key is in the hand of the United States." He also said he believed anyone who burned Iran's flag should be sentenced to death.

Meanwhile, state TV showed footage of pro-government rallies in cities, including Tabriz and Kerman. It marked the third day of such demonstrations.


11:55 a.m.

More pro-government rallies are planned in Iran after Friday prayers while activists have posted new videos purporting to show protests challenging the Islamic Republic's government.

Activists describe the protest videos, obtained by The Associated Press outside of Iran, as showing demonstrations in Tehran on Thursday night, including chants against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In Tehran on Friday morning, streets appeared calm ahead of noon prayers.

An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, called for by the United States, is to discuss the ongoing unrest later Friday.

At least 21 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding the protests, which began last week over rising food prices and Iran's flagging economy before spreading to cities across nearly all of Iran's provinces. Authorities have said the protests are waning.