Iran: Protest over soaring cost of living

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The protests reached Tehran on Friday as the movement gained support from workers upset by unpaid back wages.

A number of people took to streets on Thursday to protest against high prices in the northeastern city of Mashhad, shouting slogans denouncing President Hassan Rouhani.

"These are the reasons why the opportunistic and deceptive support of some American officials for the recent-days' strikes and convention in some cities of Iran are nothing more than deception and hypocrisy for Iranians", noted Mr. Ghasemi.

"They always say that we are supporting Iranian people, but who should pay the costs?" he asked.

Tehran's deputy provincial governor Mohsen Hamedani said "less than 50 people" had gathered in one of the city's squares and several had been arrested after refusing to move on, according to the reformist newspaper Etamad. "Police gave them the necessary notifications and confronted them with great tolerance", he said.

The initial cause of the protests was reportedly public anger over rising prices for food, a generally high inflation rate, and high unemployment.

The semi-official Fars news agency said protests on Friday also struck Qom, the world's foremost centre for Shia Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shia shrine.

Egg prices have doubled since last week due to the government's culling of millions of chickens diagnosed with avian flu, government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht told reporters on Tuesday.

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.

The report quoted the security deputy of Tehran's governor, Mohsen Hamedani, as saying that fewer than 50 people gathered at a public square in Tehran, and that a lot of them left after a police warning but a few made a decision to stay on.

The promise of rebuilding the economy - shattered by years of sanctions and maladministration - has been the central plank of Rouhani's government since he first won power in 2013, and helped him win a second term in May.

Other financial scams have also hit the region, notably the collapse in 2015 of a mega project to a build the new town of Padideh next to Mashhad, which left more than 100,000 investors out of pocket.

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