Thousands of Iranians responded on Thursday to the dire economic situation in the country by participating in several demonstrations in protest against unemployment, poverty and the high cost of living in several cities in Iran.
The largest protest was organized in the second biggest Iranian city, Mashhad, while other demonstrations were held in Razavi Khorasan Province, including Neyshabour and Kashmar.
In the beginning, the demonstrations started in protest against the increase in the price of goods, highlighted by the government’s decision to stop its economic support program, but later turned into slogans against the regime policies.
The protesters carried posters that read “Death to (Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani and death to the dictator” and “You have tarnished the image of Islam and humiliated the people.”
They also objected Iran’s interference in foreign countries with such slogans as: “Withdraw from Syria and think of us” and “No to Lebanon, no to Gaza … yes to Iran.”
Some protestors accused the authorities of “misusing religion and humiliating the people.”
Mashad governor Mohammad Rahim Norouzian was quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying that “the demonstration was illegal but the police dealt with people with tolerance”.
He said a number of protesters were arrested for “trying to damage public property.”
Eyewitnesses in Iran who spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday over the phone said that the authorities took strict security measures in order to disperse the protests in Mashhad.
Videos posted on social media showed that the riot police used water cannon to disperse the demonstrators, while other photos posted by activists showed that tear gas bombs were used against the crowds.
There was no immediate information about the number of people who participated in Thursday’s protests against high prices, but Iranian social media websites said thousands of protests had attended the demonstrations.
Tehran’s representative in the Iranian Parliament Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted his support for the people: “The people’s protests in Mashhad and other cities are in fact an outcry against the confusion and shortcomings that exist in the top layers of the country. Instead of extinguishing the protests and blaming them on political factions, we should listen to the people and find solutions.”