Iranians protest at corrupt clerics as inflation soars

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. She said, "The courageous protests erupting in vast parts of Iran today, once again demonstrate that the overthrow of the clerical regime and replacing it with democracy and popular sovereignty is a nationalist and nationwide demand".

Nazar and the semi-official Ilna news agency reported that there were also smaller protests on Thursday in Neyshabour, Kashmar, Yazd and Shahroud.

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.

Protesters were filmed shouting anti-government slogans such as "death to the dictator" and "death to Rouhani".

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

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets throughout the country on Thursday to protest against the deteriorating economic situation.

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.

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Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda called earlier for tough action against the protests.

Similar yet smaller protests reportedly took place in a few other cities, responding to calls on the Telegram messaging service for a day of demonstrations to say "No to high prices".

The governor of Mashhad dismissed the protest in his city as an "illegal No to High Prices gathering" at first.

According to a BBC Persian investigation, Iranians have become 15 percent poorer in the past 10 years, on average. Fifty-two people were arrested for chanting "harsh slogans".

Rouhani's government has faced criticism since his May re-election from both hardline opponents and disillusioned supporters, who had been expecting a broader economic recovery following the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and easing of global sanctions.

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

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.

  • Megan Austin