Mass protests against austerity and social inequality shake Iranian regime
3 January 2018
Iran has been rocked for the past six days by protests against food price rises, mass joblessness, ever-widening social inequality and the Islamic Republic’s brutal austerity program and political repression.
The protests began last Thursday in Iran’s second largest city, Mashhad, and the neighboring centers of Neyshabur and Kashmar, then spread to the capital Tehran and more than three dozen other cities and towns spread across the country.
According to government sources, 21 people, including several members of the security forces, have died in clashes between protesters and the authorities. There is no national tally of arrests, but a Tehran official has admitted that 450 people have been detained in that city since Saturday and 70 people were reportedly arrested just on Sunday night in Arak, an industrial city some 300 kilometers southwest of the capital.
The government has curtailed, when not outright blocking, the social media apps Telegram and Instagram so as to suppress information about future protests and the scope of the movement.
The scale and intensity of the protests have shaken Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime and are now prompting its rival factions to draw together to suppress the challenge from below. Over the weekend, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared Iranians had the right to peacefully protest and claimed his government would soon take steps to address the protesters’ socioeconomic grievances, adding, “We have no bigger challenge than unemployment.”
But his ministers and spokesmen for the security agencies are now vowing to stamp out the protest movement, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) saying it is ready to…