Hundreds Of Iranians Protest High Prices In Northeastern City Of Mashhad

Thousands of people gathered in several major junctions in cities in Iran on Thursday to protest against the regime amid soaring unemployment rates, poverty and rising prices.

One of the big protests was held in Mashhad, which is considered one of the holiest sites in Iran and in all of Shia Islam, as it contains the shrine of a revered 9th Century imam.

Fars reported that protesters in Kermanshah chanted anti-government slogans such as "never mind Palestine, think about us", "death or freedom" and "political prisoners should be freed".

The rally in Kermanshah appeared larger - with hundreds shown protesting in videos shared on social media - and was reportedly focused on those who lost money in the collapse of unauthorised lending institutions in recent years.

The Mashhad governor said a number of people were arrested for "trying to damage public property".

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Iranian authorities have arrested a small number of demonstrators in Tehran protesting price hikes and the president's economic policy, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported Friday. Poultry is an important part of the diet of many of Iran's 80 million people, and previous price increases have caused political problems for its leaders in the years since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and global relations scholar in Riyadh, said the demonstrations were a clear signal of the Iranian people's frustration with regime policies.

"The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)", the resident said by telephone.

In solidarity with protestors in Mashhad in northeastern Iran, protesters marched amid attempts by security forces to intimidate and threaten them.

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

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Videos posted online showed a crowd in Mashhad chanting "death to Rouhani" and "death to the dictator", and police using water cannon to disperse it.

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

According to Iran's Central Bank, inflation in the country is running at about 10 percent.

Rouhani's signature achievement, a deal in 2015 with world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting most worldwide sanctions, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.

Mashhad was one of the worst-hit areas by the closure of Mizan, which had around one million accounts, leading to several protests in the city since 2015 according to the official IRNA news agency.

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