Monday, 19 November, 2018

Iran protesters confront police at parliament

Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday news agencies reported and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in appa Iran economic protests shut Tehran's Grand Bazaar
| 28 June, 2018, 15:27

TEHRAN, Iran-Hundreds protested in the Iranian capital on Monday while merchants in the city's oldest bazaar shut their shops to protest economic woes and a collapsing currency as the USA restores sanctions.

Iran is banning imports of over 1,300 products, preparing its economy to resist threatened US sanctions, amid rare public protests against the plunge of its currency to record lows.

The rial has been under pressure since the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last month and started the process of re-imposing USA sanctions on the Iranian economy.

The BBC's Kasra Naji says those protests led ultimately to a change in government and to Iran agreeing to substantive talks on a nuclear deal with world powers.

Videos posted on social media on Monday showed anti-regime demonstrators in the Iranian capital of Tehran chanting, "Death to Palestine!".

In an interview with VOA Persian, Iranian-American economist Siamack Shojai, dean of the Cotsakos College of Business at William Paterson University in New Jersey, said the rial's slump has put the shopkeepers of Tehran's Grand Bazaar in a dilemma.

The protesters are chanting "death to Syria'" and "our enemy is here - not the U.S." as they demand the government focus on improving the economy.


Due to the economic protests, the authorities have closed Grand Bazaar, the main urban market of the capital.

Bazaar families opposed to the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution that saw him replaced by the Shia theocracy and elected officials.

Similar economic demonstrations broke out across Iran at the end of 2017 and quickly spread to some 75 cities and towns - growing into Iran's largest protests since unrest over the disputed 2009 presidential election.

There were also large-scale anti-government protests fuelled by Iran's economic problems in late December and early January.

Watch: Iranians stage anti-government protestin central Tehran, June 25, 2018.

The protests then spiraled out of control, with people openly criticizing both President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The government has struggled to tackle persistent double-digit inflation and unemployment. Nevertheless, according to ISNA, the unofficial market has been active after the Rouhani administration imposed limitations on the market and attempted to force the price of 42,000 rials per dollar, which the market never respected. The Fars news agency, believed to be close to Iran's hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, made a point Monday to publish an article from the Sobh-e No daily newspaper describing the government as being ready to "bow down to foreign threats and sit at the negotiation table".

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