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Protests rally in western Iran, some demonstrators detained in Tehran

Protests rally in western Iran, some demonstrators detained in Tehran”

IRNA quoted the governor of the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, as saying the gathering was illegal.

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a square but most had left after being asked to by police, while a few who refused were "temporarily detained", the ILNA news agency reported.

People there took to the streets to express anger at the government over high prices, and vented their fury against President Hassan Rouhani.

The Basij militias intervened to suppress demonstrators in Kermanshah who repeated anti-regime slogans such as "Death to the dictator" and "Death to Rouhani", as well as slogans of solidarity with their counterparts in Mashhad, shouting "Do not be afraid, we are all united".

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to the protests has been uncharacteristically subdued, leading some to sense weakness or cowardice in the face of public demands for accountable government.

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Political rallies are rare in Iran, but demonstrations are often held over economic issues such as layoffs, nonpayment of salaries, and price hikes.

Rajavi added: "Yesterday the city of Mashhad and today Kermanshah and tomorrow all over Iran, this is the great uprising of the people to bring down the tyrannical corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs".

The central subjects of protest are soaring prices and widespread corruption but videos widely shared on social media show chants like "death to dictator" and "down with Rouhani", referring to the so-called moderate President.

However, the anger at the inability of the government of President Hassan Rouhani to control prices developed into broader anti-government protests, calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to police beatings.

Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda called earlier for tough action against the protests.

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Unemployment stood at 12.4 percent in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4 percent from the previous year.

The head of Mashhad's revolutionary court, Hossein Heidari, said people were arrested for chanting "harsh slogans", the Fars news agency reported.

Rouhani's signature achievement, a deal in 2015 with world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting most global sanctions, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.

Social media videos also showed demonstrators chanting "Leave Syria, think about us", criticizing Iran's military and financial support for Assad.

Out of a total Iranian population of 80 million, some 3.2 million are jobless, according to official data.

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