Iranian protesters confront police in Tehran

Gladys Abbott
June 28, 2018

Protesters gathered in the streets, in shopping malls and outside the parliament building where they clashed with security forces.

The small businessmen work in the heart of Tehran's trading district and are angry with the Rouhani Administration's handling of the U.S. walkout from the nuclear deal and upcoming sanctions from Washington - the Iranian rial (IRR) had plunged to a new all-time unofficial market low of IRR90,000 to the dollar on June 24, according to reports via social media.

The US administration, under President Donald Trump, has claimed that the Iranian nuclear deal has not resulted in peace and stability in the Middle East, and demanded that Iran reduce its presence in the region and stop ballistic missile development.

He said the protest was against "the high exchange rate, foreign currency fluctuations. goods being blocked at customs, and the lack of clear criteria for duties".

Videos posted to social media showed protesters chanting: "Death to Palestine", "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon" and "Leave Syria and think of us".

"In the coming months we will see much more intervention in the economy by the government, a centrally imposed style of management by dictat", he said. Chants against that practice have been heard in frequent, small-scale anti-government protests across Iran since December, mostly outside Tehran.

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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.

Tehran's sprawling Grand Bazaar has always been a center of conservatism in Iranian politics, and it remains an economic force within the country - despite the construction of massive malls around the city.

The protests then spiraled out of control, with people openly criticizing both President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protest coincided with the Iranian rial weakening to a record low of 90,000 to the dollar on the black market in recent days.

The dollar's surging black market value also has led the Iranian central bank to ration its supply of the US currency to Iranians, Shojai said.

Some hard-liners have called for new elections or for a military-led government to replace Rouhani's government. The Fars news agency, believed to be close to Iran's hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, made a point on 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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