Agency, 17 November : Iran’s interior minister has warned that security forces will act to restore calm if those protesting against the 50% increase in petrol prices “damaged public properties”, as anti-government protests spread across Iran.
Protesters blocked traffic in major cities and clashed with police after a night of demonstrations punctuated by gunfire. At least one person has reportedly been killed.
“Security forces have so far shown restraint and have tolerated the protests. But as the calm and security of people is our priority, they will fulfil their duty to restore calm if attacks on public and individuals’ properties continue,” interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told state TV.
The protests put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome the US sanctions strangling the country after Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the country from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Though largely peaceful, demonstrations turned violent in several instances, with online videos purporting to show police officers firing teargas at protesters and mobs setting fires. While representing a political risk for the president, Hassan Rouhani, before February’s parliamentary elections, the protests show the widespread anger among Iran’s population of 80 million who have seen their savings evaporate, job scarcity and the collapse of the national currency, the rial.
The demonstrations took place in more than a dozen cities in the hours following Rouhani’s decision at midnight on Friday to cut petrol subsidies to fund support for Iran’s poor. Petrol in the country still remains among the cheapest in the world, with prices jumping to a minimum of 15,000 rials per litre – 50% up from the day before.
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