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Protests close Tehran's Grand Bazaar

28 June, 2018, 15:28 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Iranians shop at Tehran's ancient Grand Bazaar

Tehran's cell phone market went on strike on Sunday June 24, with store owners and people marching in protest in Jomhouri (Republic) Avenue as the city's Forex market, just a stone-throw away, recorded the highest value for USA dollar against the Iranian currency rial.

Amid the protests, the Iranian administration announced that will create a parallel market next week in a bid to combat the black market and facilitate the trade of foreign currencies in the country.

The unplanned demonstrations come a day after Tehran's two major shopping malls dedicated to mobiles and electronics shut down in protest over alleged rent-seeking by official importers, and refused to sell their products using the government's reduced rial rate of IRR42,000 to the dollar.

According to the BBC, at one point, Iran's anti-riot police fired tear gas into the crowd of protesters as they marched towards parliament or Majles. In the Grand Bazaar, hundreds staged a similar protest, videos posted on social media show.

In what appears to be a stunning turn away from Iran's generally anti-Semitic stance, which is replete with chants of "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" - both long considered the "little Satan" and "great Satan" by the regime - Iranian protesters were chanting "Death to Palestine!".

After US President Donald Trump made a decision to withdraw from world powers' deal with Iran on its nuclear program, some US sanctions are to be reimposed in August and some in November.


"They want the situation on the foreign exchange market to be clarified once and for all", Abdollah Esfiandari, head of the historical covered market's administrative board, told ISNA news agency.

The Iranian rial has dropped to 90,000 to $1 on the country's black market, despite government attempts to control the currency rate.

He was quoted by Iranian media as saying a rate of 42,000 rials per dollar would be set for "importing essential commodities including medicine", and that importers and exporters would "have to agree on the rate for importing non-essential goods".

"In the coming months we will see much more intervention in the economy by the government, a centrally imposed style of management by dictat", he said.

It was the biggest protest in Tehran since 2012, when worldwide sanctions related to Iran's nuclear activities were crippling its economy.

The rial exchange rate was 65,000 to the dollar just before to the United States withdrawal from the deal, and 43,000 at the end of previous year. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and almost 5,000 arrested.

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