Hundreds of Iranians protested in the north of the country against rising living costs, unemployment and poverty, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
The “no to high prices” demonstration raised “death to the dictator” slogans, referring to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Protesters also waved banners denouncing Iran’s interference in the Arab region, chanting “forget about Syria, think about us”.
Violent clashes between the protesters and security forces took place during the rally with police attacking demonstrators and firing tear gas at them.
Breaking news-Thousands protest in Mashhad (second most populous city located in northeast #Iran), and other cities today, chanting “death to Rouhani”, “death to dictator” “forget about Syria, think about us.” They were protesting the rise in the living costs. pic.twitter.com/wprzRzZb3c
— Shahin Gobadi (@gobadi) December 28, 2017
IRNA quoted the governor of the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, as saying the gathering was illegal. “Police gave them the necessary notifications and confronted them with great tolerance,” he said.
A number of protestors had been arrested for “trying to damage public property”, he added.
IRNA pointed out that other protests also took place in the cities of Neyshabur, Shahroud and Yazd.
The promise of rebuilding the economy — shattered by years of sanctions and maladministration — has been the central plank of Rouhani’s government since he first won power in 2013.
He has succeeded in bringing inflation down to ten per cent, however, the economy is still struggling from lack of investment, with unemployment officially at 12 per cent, likely much higher in real terms, according to analysts.
Out of a total Iranian population of 80 million, some 3.2 million are jobless, according to official data.