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Iranians protest against high prices in Mashhad

Iranians protest against high prices in Mashhad

Over 10,000 Iranian men and women, young and old, demonstrated in Mashhad on Thursday morning, December 28, 2017, chanting "death to the dictator", "death to Rouhani" in protest to unbridled, daily hike in the cost of basic necessities of life.

In Mashhad, the second most populated city in Iran, capital of the northeastern province of Khorassan Razavi, the protest began in Shohada Square outside the Municipality building and quickly spread to a vast area.

Fars reported that protesters in Kermanshah chanted anti-government slogans such as "never mind Palestine, think about us", "death or freedom" and "political prisoners should be freed".

The biggest protest was on Thursday was in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, a religious wealthy and conservative city.

A number of protestors had been arrested for "trying to damage public property", he added.

The initial cause of the protests was reportedly public anger over rising prices for food, a generally high inflation rate, and high unemployment.

Corruption and mismanagement of vital resources have also been proposed as reasons for the protest, combined with a debt crisis choking the Iranian banking sector.

The head of Mashhad's revolutionary court, Hossein Heidari, said people were arrested for chanting "harsh slogans", the Fars news agency reported.

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Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and global relations scholar in Riyadh, said the demonstrations were a clear signal of the Iranian people's frustration with regime policies.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to the protests has been uncharacteristically subdued, leading some to sense weakness or cowardice in the face of public demands for accountable government.

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

Iran's senior vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri said Friday that some political factions are using the economy as an excuse to attack the government, pointing to external influences behind the protests.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, the Mashhad governor, as saying there was an illegal "No To High Prices" gathering in the city.

Tehran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's civil war, Shi'ite militias in Iraq, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group.

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 worldwide sanctions, would boost economic growth.

Out of a total Iranian population of 80 million, some 3.2 million are jobless, according to official data.

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