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Iranian Protests Spread As Discontent Over Sanction-Hit Economy Grows

People protest over the fall of the rial in Tehran on June 12.

Merchants and shopkeepers at bazaars have continued protests in more cities across Iran as the economy reels from U.S. sanctions and the rial weakens to historic lows against the dollar.

The Hrana news agency reported on June 15 that mobile phone sellers in the city of Najafabad in Isfahan joined the protests, closing their shops over the instability of the currency and an increase in tax rates.

Protests were also reported in Arak, Kazerun, and Minab.

With the rial trading at around 332,000 to the dollar, rallies have been spreading after Tehran's bazaars and merchants in Kazerun in Fars Province closed their markets to protest the country's economic conditions.

The shopkeepers' rally in Tehran on June 13 was met with a violent show of force by security officers, who tried to disperse the protesters.

Since the start of the Persian year in mid-March, the rial has lost just over one-quarter of its value against the dollar.

The sanctions and the subsequent fall of the rial have hit the Iranian economy hard, often leading to street protests in many cities followed by crackdowns by the authorities.

The semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported that Iran's central bank hosted a group of foreign-exchange traders on June 12 to coordinate efforts to strengthen the rial.

Writing and reporting by Ardeshir Tayebi