Iran: Protest over soaring cost of living

Norouzian said police arrested a number of people who meant to destroy public property, without elaborating.

The footage, published by small reformist media group Nazar, also showed people shouting "not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran", reflecting anger in some circles that the government is focusing too much on regional politics rather than tackling domestic problems.

Hundreds of Iranians protested in the north of the country against rising living costs, unemployment and poverty, Iran's IRNA news agency reported.

The protests in Kermanshah, the main city in a region where an quake killed over 600 people in November, took place a day after hundreds rallied in Iran's second largest city Mashhad to protest at high prices and shout anti-government slogans.

Various chants appeared to target both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, without naming him, and President Hassan Rohani.

The report quoted the security deputy of Tehran's governor, Mohsen Hamedani, as saying that fewer than 50 people gathered at a public square in Tehran, and that majority left after a police warning but a few chose to stay on.

The protests in Mashhad saw police make an unspecified number of arrests, local authorities said, though the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates did not intervene as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since Iran's disputed 2009 election.

Political rallies are rare in Iran, but demonstrations are often held over economic issues such as layoffs, nonpayment of salaries, and price hikes.

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IRNA pointed out that other protests also took place in the cities of Neyshabur, Shahroud and Yazd.

However, he noted that a call for "No to high prices" protests had been circulated on the messaging app Telegram.

Social media videos also showed demonstrators chanting "Leave Syria, think about us", criticizing Iran's military and financial support for Assad.

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

So has inflation, which Iran's Central Bank says has returned to 10 percent.

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 global 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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