Mass protests sweep through Tehran as Iranian currency plummets

Mass protests sweep through Tehran as Iranian currency plummets
The shopkeepers of Tehran's bazaars have gone on strike as the rial hits record lows, while protesters take to the capital's streets calling for the return of Reza Pahlavi
3 min read
25 June, 2018
Shopkeepers of Tehran's bazaar went on strike over the freefalling currency [Twitter]
The Iranian parliament has shut down as mass protests gathered outside its headquarters in Tehran on Monday after the rial collapsed on Sunday causing even deeper economic woes for its citizens beset by debts and austerity.

Demonstrations were sparked on Monday morning when Iranian traders left their market stalls in the capital's bazaar locked up as they took to the streets to protest rapidly deteriorating economic conditions after the currency went in to freefall, sending market prices skyrocketing.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency described the protests as erupting after the Iranian rial dropped to 90,000 to the dollar on the country's black market, despite government attempts to control the currency rate.

Local reports indicated that the protests were spreading, with photos showing Tabriz's grand bazaar looking desolate as shop owners joined the nationwide strike.

Shopkeepers were joined by ordinary civilians who marched through the capital's streets, chanting "strike!" and "We don't want the Dollar at 100,000 Rials", as the currency collapse exacerbates an already stagnant economy and vastly diminished purchasing power of most ordinary Iranians.

Demonstrators also chanted: "Leave Syria, think about us," echoing similar calls voiced during the previous wave of popular protests in December and January, which were quashed violently by the regime.

Discontent over Iran's increasing investment in regional conflicts such as Syria and Yemen is widespread among citizens faced with deep-set financial trouble and little assistance from the government.

Videos emerged on social media showing protestors calling for the return of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the Shah deposed during the uprisings in 1978 and 1979. 

"Reza Shah, Bless Your Soul", could be heard from the crowds, as well as "death to the dictator" and "Our enemy is right here, they lie and say it's America".

Iran's latest economic troubles come against the backdrop of international firms pulling away from the country after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since its 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 people arrested by authorities.

Discontent of Tehran's bazaar traders - who wield considerable political influence - was also a key trigger of the anti-Shah protests that swept the country in the late seventies which eventually led to the monarch's overthrow.

The latest protest comes just five days before members of the Iranian diaspora gather in Paris for the "Free Iran 2018" rally, calling for regime change in the Islamic Republic.