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Persian Letters

Eyewitnesses Report From Tehran Currency Clashes

Iranian protesters gather next to a garbage container that was set on fire during scuffles with police in central Tehran, near the main bazaar,on October 3.
Iranian protesters gather next to a garbage container that was set on fire during scuffles with police in central Tehran, near the main bazaar,on October 3.
Clashes have taken place in Tehran between riot police and a number of protesters including currency traders, who were venting their anger over the collapse of the rial, which some blamed on poor economic policies and also economic sanctions.

Eyewitnesses say that police used tear gas and batons against the protesters. A number of people were arrested, according to reports by Iran's official news agencies.

The protest marks the first instance of unrest over the plunging value of Iran's currency, the rial, which has reached a record low, losing about one-third of its value since last week.

Several amateur videos, said to be from the protest in Tehran, show hundreds of people walking in the city center. RFE/RL is not able to fully confirm the authenticity of the videos.

In this video recorded with a cell phone, protesters are apparently expressing anger over Iran's support for the Syrian regime.

"Leave Syria alone, think about us," they chant.

In this video, protesters call on Tehran's bazaar merchants to support them: "Dear prideful bazaaris, support, support."

They also demand the closure of the shops and businesses: "Close down, close down."

Well known Iranian activist Vahid Online posted this video, in which protesters are marching on Ferdowsi Street and chanting some of the slogans of the 2009 antigovernment protests, including  "Don't be afraid, we're all together" and also "No to Syria, No to Lebanon, may my life be sacrificed for Iran."

The opposition Kalame website reports that "Death to Syria," "Death to the dictator," "Allah Akbar," and "The dollar should be halved" were among other slogans that were chanted in the Iranian capital on October 3.

Some chants also reportedly targeted President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has been accused of massive economic mismanagement and inefficiency in dealing with the current crisis.  Ahmadinejad said on October 2 that the devaluation of the rial was in part caused by the sanctions Iran is facing over its sensitive nuclear work.

The plunge of the rial is causing anxiety and pain among many Iranians.

A merchant in Tehran told RFE/RL that many people are scared about the future.

"Everyone is very concerned and frightened. I can say that everyone is very confused. Of course, this general atmosphere has cast a shadow over Iran for a long time," he said.

"Nobody knows what's going to happen to them next week. The situation is getting very bad. You never see a smile on anybody's face anymore."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Tags: sanctions,Iranian nuclear program

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Comment Sorting
by: Nima from: London
October 04, 2012 09:31
Copying bits and pieces from other reports hours later. "Eyewitnesses say ... RFE/RL is not able to confirm the authencity of the videos ..." - pathetic reporting. Obviously the eyewitnesses did not tell RFE/RL but you give the impression in your headline.
Then " a merchant told RFE/RL ..." - who was the merchant, the author's cousin?! Who would talk to RFE/RL? People in Iran know Radio Farda but not RFE/RL. Do not kid yourself.
In Response

by: Steve from: Washington
October 04, 2012 10:20
Pretty sure Radio Farda is RFE/RL, Nima. This is the RFE/RL site, but when someone talks to Radio Farda they are in fact talking to RFE/RL. Not kidding.
In Response

by: Maryam
October 04, 2012 20:33
Nima, Radio Farda is the Farsi language service of Radio Europe Free. Miss Esfandiari reports for both the English service and Radio Farda. She conducts interviews for Farda. No need to insult her.

by: Ahmad from: Maryland
October 04, 2012 13:42
Here is a view of the protest from above:
My heart bleeds for my countrymen because of the pain they're going through, but they make me proud.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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