Middle East News

Iran’s Mass Protests Rock Tehran

The protest that shook the world on Dec. 28 in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, and quickly spread throughout the country has picked up steam in the last few days — this time in Tehran.

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Today is the third day of protests and unrest in Tehran in six years, as the Grand Bazaar closed and demonstrators made their way from there to the parliament building to express their discontent with their government.

As the protest began, Iranians called out to shopkeepers who wouldn’t close, “Coward!” Thousands of people marched and chanted in the streets of the capital, and the regime sent riot police to beat and tear-gas them into submission. It didn’t work. Large groups of protesters rushed at the police, forcing them to flee, and torched many of the motorcycles they left behind. The government set aside four stadiums and six parks as places of legal protest, but demonstrators are not interested in following the rules of a repressive regime.

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Like the Mashhad uprising, this one in Tehran — and my sources tell me similar ones are taking place today in Shiraz, Qeshm, Kermanshah, and Mashhad — began over economic concerns and almost immediately turned political, as Iranians recognize a corrupt theocracy has no concern for the citizens who keep it fed.

Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost half its value against the U.S. dollar in less than a year; the government has set an exchange rate of 42,000 rials to $1, but dollars are going for 90,000 rials on the black market. In his sermon celebrating the end of Ramadan, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged his countrymen to stop going abroad and taking foreign currency out of Iran.

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While the price of goods and services has risen exponentially with the decline of the currency, the regime’s mafia bands cause further decline of the currency and gold coins by buying the currency at the government’s price and selling it at twice that price in a corrupt manner. The state-run media, Entekhab, wrote on June 23, “Where in the world the sale of 380,000 coins is revealed by 50 people, and the government pays no attention to it? Why don’t you reveal those who smuggle the gold coins and those who support them?”

The currency crisis, the recession and high prices, are the outcome of the policies of the regime that has wasted the assets of the Iranian people, either by spending on domestic repression, nuclear projects, export of terrorism and fundamentalism and warfare in the region, or they have been looted by the regime’s corrupt leaders.

This increased unrest comes just days before the annual Free Iran Gathering held near Paris by dissidents working toward a democratic Iran.

Originally posted at The Washington Times

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