Iran rial plunges to new lows

Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday news agencies reported and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in appa

Protesters angered by Iran's cratering economy have confronted police officers in front of parliament, with security forces firing tear gas at them, according to online videos.

Other videos appeared to show police charging into the crowd.

User generated videos received by Radio Farda show buyers urging store owners to shut down and protest and the crowd pours into the street, with others joining them.

He said the protest was against "the high exchange rate, foreign currency fluctuations. goods being blocked at customs, and the lack of clear criteria for duties".

In an interview with VOA Persian, Iranian-American economist Siamack Shojai, dean of the Cotsakos College of Business at William Paterson University in New Jersey, said the rial's slump has put the shopkeepers of Tehran's Grand Bazaar in a dilemma.

The head of Iran's Chamber of Guilds, Ali Fazeli, was quoted as saying the situation at the bazaar is calm.

"Their demands are delivered through the chamber to the government, and these are being pursued by us", he said.

Due to the economic protests, the authorities have closed Grand Bazaar, the main urban market of the capital. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and almost 5,000 people arrested by authorities.

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As the economy in Iran deteriorates, demonstrators in Tehran protested the regime's financial support for terror proxies in the region at the expense of domestic economic needs.

The protests were a fresh challenge to President Hassan Rouhani's government just months after widespread street demonstrations roiled the Islamic Republic.

The protests then spiraled out of control, with people openly criticizing both President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The government has struggled to tackle persistent double-digit inflation and unemployment.

ISNA reported on Saturday that the price of U.S. dollar was rising in the market because of an increase in the official rate and the Central Bank's inability to supply dollars to the markets and the banks.

Some hard-liners have called for new elections or for a military-led government to replace Rouhani's government.

The ISNA news agency said the protesters were forcing shopkeepers to close their stalls at the market on Monday.

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri urged parliament to discuss the country's worsening economic conditions and defend President Hassan Rouhani's government, accusing the U.S. administration of "conspiring" against his country by launching an "economic war". "Even our friends and neighbors like Russia, China and Europeans can't help us today".

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