Iranian Police Fire Tear Gas After Protesters Swarm Tehran's Grand Bazaar

25 Juin, 2018, 23:27 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Iranians shop at Tehran's ancient Grand Bazaar

Police patrolled Tehran's Grand Bazaar on Monday as security forces struggled to restore normality after clashes with protesters angered by the rial's collapse, which is disrupting business by driving up the cost of imports, witnesses said.

The Iranian authorities attempted to halt the rial's slide in April by unifying the official and black market exchange rates and by banning trading at anything other than the official rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar.

The BBC's Kasra Naji says those protests led ultimately to a change in government and to Iran agreeing to substantive talks on a nuclear deal with world powers.

This could reduce Iran's hard currency earnings from oil exports, and the prospect is triggering a panicked flight of Iranians' savings from the rial into dollars.

"Anti-riot police intervened" to disperse a protest in the Grand Bazaar, making two arrests, according to another carpet merchant.

Merchants at the mobile phone shopping centers Aladdin and Charsou in central Tehran protested against the rapid depreciation of the rial by shutting down their shops on Sunday, the semi-official news agency Fars reported.

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The Iranian rial plunged to a record low against the US dollar on the unofficial market on Sunday, continuing its slide amid fears of returning USA sanctions after President Donald Trump in May withdrew from a deal on Tehran's nuclear program.

The rial has weakened from around 65,000 rials just before Trump's announcement of the USA withdrawal in early May, and from 42,890 at the end of past year - a freefall that threatens to boost inflation, hurt living standards and reduce the ability of Iranians to travel overseas.

Similar economic demonstrations broke out across Iran at the end of 2017 and quickly spread to some 75 cities and towns - growing into Iran's largest protests since unrest over the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Iran eased its "resistance economy" policy after many global sanctions were lifted in January 2016 under the nuclear deal. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Many foreign goods continued to enter the country at higher prices as a result of corruption and smuggling, benefiting business interests with the close official ties needed to arrange the shipments. The Tehran Times quoted Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, head of parliament's economic committee, as saying the ban would prevent an outflow of $10 billion of foreign currency. These figures suggested Iran might withstand the sanctions without an external payments crisis.

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