UPDATE, 1945 GMT: Protests continue tonight in Tehran:

UPDATE, 1115 GMT: The Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Hojetoleslam Kazem Seddiqi, has warned, “The judiciary will deal with economic criminals without any delusions.”

Seddiqi also blamed poor administration and inattention to Islamic laws for the currency crisis and economic problems: “We must have religious management in the country and follow the instructions of Almighty Allah.”

Protests spread in cities across Iran on Thursday, with crowds demanding that the regime address the economic crisis that has worsened with a currency collapse.

Protests over low wages and poor working conditions have been ongoing in the Islamic Republic this year, but they surged in January and again in June. The current escalation began on Tuesday, and by yesterday, demonstrations were reported in Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Karaj, Najafabad, Sari, and Bandar Abbas.

Videos on social media showed police trying to disperse protesters with tear gas, pepper gas, paintball guns, and water cannons.

Showing the regime’s concern, hardline Ayatollah Hassan Nouri Hamedani said, “The judiciary and the respectable officials of the country must deal with anyone who disturbs the country’s economy as a traitor.”

The catalyst for the latest demonstrations is a 35% fall in only 48 hours in the value of the Iranian rial v. the US dollar. Although the currency has recovered slightly, it is still at 10,700:1 v. the dollar, a drop of almost since the 45,000:1 mark — already a historic low — in January.

Fed by internal problems and expanding US sanctions, the devaluation is leading to price rises, hindered production, and restricted imports. Earlier this week, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned President Hassan Rouhani to act or face consequences.

On Wednesday, the Government announced a reorganization of the foreign exchange market, effectively abandoning a unified official rate — at 42,000:1 v. the US dollar — that it announced this spring. The discounted rate will still be offered to importers of essential goods and to travellers, with a shifting open-market rate for all other purchasers.

See Iran Daily, August 2: Currency Crisis — Government Declares New Foreign Exchange Market


Karaj last night: