Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in order to protest against the difficult economic situation, rising fuel and food prices and corruption. Demonstrations began in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on Thursday evening and have since spread to several other major cities around the country. In Tehran, protests turned violent as students clashed with police. Two protesters have died of gunshot wounds.
According to experts, Iranians are angry because they expected life conditions to get better after the removal of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program in 2015. However, the economy has continued to sputter since then. Government policies haven’t helped either, as they have brought about higher unemployment and inflation, while the Iranian Administration is also viewed by the public as highly corrupt. Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said there’s also a growing push amongst citizens to secure equal rights for women.
This is the largest public display of discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement. Experts say that this protest may be more of a civil rights movement than a revolutionary one, while it is also seen as a direct challenge to the rule of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. One resident of the Iranian capital claims to having witnessed a protester tearing down a poster of Khamenei near Tehran University.
Meanwhile, Iran’s answer has been to restrict access to several social media apps, and has warned that anti-government protesters who cause public disorder will ”pay the price”. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to speak in a pre-recorded address to the country on Sunday.