Iran: Arrests in Tehran after protests over price hikes

People protest in Tehran Iran

Police confronted the "illegal" protest "with tolerance", Norouzian said, adding that the authorities arrested a number of people who meant to destroy public property, without providing details.

Many angry demonstrators had protested in many cities across the country on Thursday, including the second-largest city of Mashhad, over rising food prices and inflation.

"The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)", the resident said by telephone.

Protests took place in several other cities in response to calls on the Telegram messaging app for demonstrations against high prices.

Nazar and the semi-official Ilna news agency reported that there were also smaller protests on Thursday in Neyshabour, Kashmar, Yazd and Shahroud. She said, "The courageous protests erupting in vast parts of Iran today, once again demonstrate that the overthrow of the clerical regime and replacing it with democracy and popular sovereignty is a nationalist and nationwide demand". The Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary organization, has vast economic interests in the country.

Protests were held also in the town of Quchan near the Turkmen border, and in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, social media and Iranian news websites reported.




Some footage in social media, showed police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, but it could not be verified.

The governor of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, said that "the demonstration was illegal but the police dealt with people with tolerance". At least 100 protesters were arrested in Mashhad. Fifty-two people were arrested for chanting "harsh slogans".

Some others chanted "Leave Syria alone, think about us", condemning Iran's financial and military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces are fighting government opponents in a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a Rohani ally, suggested that hard-line opponents of the president may have started the protests in Mashhad.

Mashhad was among the areas hardest hit by the closure of Mizan, which had around one million accounts, according to the official IRNA news agency.

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.

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