On Thursday, hundreds of people protested in the streets of the city of Mashad, the second largest city in Iran, shouting slogans against the government over high prices. The videos posted on social media platforms showed the protestors, in one of the holiest places in Shia Islam, chanting “death to (President Hassan) Rouhani” as well as “death to the dictator”.
A news agency and social media has reported protests in other cities in Razavi Khorasan Province, including Neyshabour and Kashmar.
Rouhani is known for a deal that was made in 2015 with world powers to cut back Iran’s nuclear program for the purposes of having most international sanctions removed. The deal has not brought forth the economic benefits the government has promised, yet.
Many Iranians believe the economy has not improved because of the corruption and mismanagement in the government. Unemployment rose to 12.4 percent in this fiscal year a 1.4 percent increase from the year before, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran. Roughly 3.2 million Iranians are unemployed, out of the country’s total population of 80 million.
Mashad governor Mohammad Rahim Norouzian was quoted by a news agency stating that “the demonstration was illegal, but the police dealt with people with tolerance”. He added that many of the protesters were arrested for “trying to damage public property”.
The videos posted on social media depict police using water cannons and tear gas to break up the crowds. Norouzian also told the news agency that the protests were organized by “enemies of the Islamic Republic” and “counter-revolutionaries”.
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The protesters also chanted “leave Syria, think about us”, disapproving Iran’s deployment of troops to support President Bashar al-Assad nearly 7 years ago. Tehran has funded Syria’s struggling economy.
On Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the country was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and requested officials to resolve the issues.