Iran cities hit by anti-government protests
Demonstrators turned out in several large Iranian cities, including Rasht [photo], and Kermanshah,with smaller protests, as well in Isfahan and Hamada
50 protesters arrested in Teheran, Friday, biggest protest on Thursday in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, with 52 arrests
Protests over govt focus on police over domestic issues with chants of “not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran”
Demonstrators turned out in several large Iranian cities, including Rasht [photo], and Kermanshah, with smaller protests, as well in Isfahan and Hamada
Anti-government demonstrations that began in one city on Thursday have now spread to several major cities in Iran, BBC reports.
Large numbers reportedly turned out in Rasht, in the north, and Kermanshah, in the west, with smaller protests in Isfahan, Hamadan and elsewhere.
The protests began against rising prices but have spiralled into a general outcry against clerical rule and government policies
The economy it has been reported, has risen out of recession and inflation has been reduced, but businesses are still struggling from a lack of investment and the official unemployment rate is 12.4%, up 1.4% from the previous year.
Friday a small number of people were arrested in the capital city of Tehran, during the protests.
They were among a group of 50 people who gathered in a city square, Tehran’s deputy governor-general for security affairs told the Iranian Labour News Agency.
The governor-general of Tehran earlier said that any such gatherings would be firmly dealt with by the police, who are out in force on main intersections.
An initial report of a demonstration in the southern city of Shiraz was not confirmed.The
demonstrations are the most serious and widespread expression of public discontent in Iran since protests in 2009 that followed a disputed election, correspondents say.
Demonstrators were reportedly heard yelling slogans including “The people are begging, the clerics act like God”. Protests have even been held in Qom, a holy city home to powerful clerics.
The biggest protest on Thursday was in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, where there were 52 arrests.
There have been calls on social media for protests up and down the country, despite warnings from the government against illegal gatherings.
Videos posted on social media purport to show clashes between security forces and some demonstrators in Kermanshah on Friday.
The protests on Thursday started with anger at the inability of the government of President Hassan Rouhani to control prices – the cost of eggs has doubled in a week.
However, some developed into broader anti-government protests, calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to police beatings.
There were also chants in Mashhad of “not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran”, a reference to what protesters say is the administration’s focus on foreign policy rather than domestic issues.
The arrests in Mashhad were for chanting “harsh slogans”, officials said.
The demonstrations have taken the Iranian authorities by surprise. Impromptu anti-government demonstrations are rare in a country where the Revolutionary Guard and numerous intelligence agencies have a strong grip on the population.
But it seems that the hardliners opposed to President Rouhani may have triggered the unrest by holding a demonstration that quickly grew out of control and spread to cities and towns across the country.
The government has blamed the current unrest on anti-revolutionary elements and foreign agents. The head of Mashhad’s revolutionary court, Hossein Heidari, reportedly said: “We consider protest to be the people’s right but if some people want to abuse these emotions and ride this wave, we won’t wait and will confront them.”But the protests clearly stem from seething discontent in Iran, mainly because of the worsening economic conditions faced by ordinary Iranians.
President Rouhani promised that the deal he signed with world powers in 2015, which saw Iran limit its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions, would boost economic growth, it has to a large extent done so.
However, while the economy has risen out of recession and inflation has been reduced, but businesses are still struggling from a lack of investment and the official unemployment rate is 12.4%. BBC Persia reports that Iranians, on average, have become 15% poorer in the past ten years alone.
Many Iranians would prefer a shift in government police to address domestic issues.
They believe that money that should be used to improve their lives is being spent by Iran’s leaders on conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Billions are also being spent on spreading religious propaganda and Shia Islam around the world.