President Hassan Rouhani promised his Iranian citizens on Tuesday that the government will be able to provide them with basic needs as economic protests escalate for the second day over the state’s failing economy.
Merchants in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar shut down their shops in strikes as hundreds of people gathered in the old city center to protest their country’s failing currency, which is in part a result of U.S. sanctions.
The Iranian rial has plunged to record lows against the U.S. dollar, which on Sunday was compared at $1 to 89,000 rials, according to foreign exchange website Bonbast. The country’s weak currency has disrupted trade and dramatically increased the cost of imports, causing massive citizen unrest and criticism of Rouhani.
After President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran Deal on May 8, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Washington also reimposed significant economic sanctions on Iran, which has damaged several areas of the country’s economy, including rising unemployment and high inflation. (RELATED: Trump Moves Onto Iran: Says He Wants A ‘Real Deal’)
While the protests appear to be aimed at the government’s handling of the economy, several people were chanting critical words toward Rouhani, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal.
“Our enemy is right here, but they falsely claim [our enemy] is the U.S.,” and similar sentiments echoed across social media, the WSJ reported.
Rouhani attempted to claim the falling value of the rial was a result of “foreign media propaganda” in a speech broadcasted live on state television, according to Reuters.
“Even in the worst case, I promise that the basic needs of Iranians will be provided,” he said. “We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market.”
Monday’s protests began to turn slightly violent, as security forces began to spray tear gas at the protesters, according to videos posted online.
The government is attempting to quell the unrest and re-stabilize the economy by controlling prices, including banning imports on thousands of goods, in response to the U.S. sanctions.
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