Protests reported in Tehran, Kermanshah and Mashhad

Hundreds demonstrate in Tehran, Kermanshah and other cities against economic inequality, unemployment and inflation.

    Protests reported in Tehran, Kermanshah and Mashhad
    Protesters have rallied in Iran over price increase and unemployment [Youtube screenshot]

    Hundreds of protesters have rallied in several Iranian cities against rising prices, unemployment and economic inequality, according to anti-government activists and Iran's semi-state news agency Fars.

    About 300 people protested in Kermanshah, a city in western Iran, on Friday, according to Fars.

    Police intervened after protesters damaged public property, the news agency reported.

    Protests also broke out in the capital Tehran, according to social media.

    The protests came after an earlier demonstration in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, on Thursday drew "thousands" of residents, anti-government activists said on social media.

    Rallies were also held in a handful of other cities to decry rising food prices and other economic issues.

    The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 percent in recent days, the Associated Press news agency said.

    Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran's first vice president, acknowledged that "there is an increase in the prices of some products", but said "the government is working on fixing the causes of the high prices".

    Jahangiri also cast doubt on whether the protests were solely motivated by economic issues.

    "The people behind what is taking place think they will be able to harm the government, but when social movements and protests start in the street, those who have ignited them are not always able to control them," he said.

    High unemployment

    In August, the Iranian Central Bank said inflation had reached 10 percent, the Tehran Times newspaper reported at the time.

    The unemployment rate reached a three-year high of 12.7 percent last year, according to the World Bank.

    Adnan Tabatabai, a political analyst and co-founder of the Germany-based Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, wrote on Twitter that the protests "are driven by socioeconomic grievances, not political aspiration".

    "Peaceful sit-ins, strikes & gatherings in front of ministries & state institutions have happened regularly in various parts of the country, as people continue to have unresolved/unaddressed economic grievances," Tabatabai wrote.

    Still, the protests have also been conspicuous for their anti-government slogans.

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    On social media, anti-government activists said protesters had chanted for the release of political prisoners, while others reportedly shouted, "Death to Rouhani", referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said AFP news agency.

    Rouhani, who was re-elected to a second term in May, has been under pressure from his conservative opponents inside Iran over perceived efforts to liberalise the country.

    Tabatabai, the political analyst, said he did not believe the protests were the start of a revolutionary movement in Iran.

    Instead, he wrote on Twitter that they signal that Rouhani, his government and Iran's political elite as a whole "must finally take [the] socioeconomic grievances" of ordinary Iranians seriously.

    Videos of the protests in Mashhad, published by small reformist media group Nazar, showed people shouting "not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran", AFP reported.

    The slogan reflects anger that the Iranian government is focusing on regional politics at the expense of tackling domestic issues.

    Iran's semi-official news agency ILNA reported that about 50 people also protested in a public square in the capital, Tehran, on Friday, AP reported.

    Mohsen Hamedani, the security deputy for Tehran's governor, said a few people were "temporarily arrested", but did not specify how many, said the AP report.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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