Protests in Iran over currency crisis

2012-10-04 09:44
An Iranian fire fighter extinguishes a burned motorcycle in a street in central Tehran, near Tehran's old main bazaar. (AP)

An Iranian fire fighter extinguishes a burned motorcycle in a street in central Tehran, near Tehran's old main bazaar. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Tehran - Scuffles broke out in central Tehran in the first sign of unrest over Iran's plunging currency, which has lost more than half its value since last week in a crisis Washington said is of its own making.

Hundreds of police in anti-riot gear stormed the currency exchange district of Ferdowsi on Wednesday, arresting illegal money changers and ordering licensed exchange bureaux and other shops closed, witnesses said.

Uniformed police and plain-clothes security officers were seen carrying out arrests.

The Mehr news agency said two Europeans were among those arrested, for allegedly trying to report on the situation under the guise of being tourists.

It gave no other details and no Western embassy immediately confirmed that any of its citizens had been detained.

Smoke rose above the scene. Some appeared to come from at least two dumpsters set on fire, one of which was near the British embassy - evacuated last year after pro-government demonstrators stormed it.

Police to take action

The source of other smoke could not be determined, with police directing pedestrians and vehicles away.

Individuals threw stones at police officers and a police car before running away, witnesses said.

A protest in Tehran's historic Grand Bazaar - a maze-like complex of shops vital to the city - also took place but was quickly put down by police.

"We closed because we don't know what is going to happen" in terms of the currency market, one shopkeeper said.

Mehr quoted Colonel Khalil Helali as saying police were going to take action against shopkeepers who closed their businesses, for "disturbing" the situation.

He played down the extent of the protests, saying "the presence of people and onlookers does not mean a demonstration or a closure, and we had no reports of the bazaar closing".

BBC signal jammed

Mehr said the situation in central Tehran had returned to normal late on Wednesday.

Journalists for foreign media in Iran were not permitted to go to the area to confirm events there and had to rely on eyewitness accounts.

The BBC reported that viewers inside Iran had said the signal for its Persian-language service had been jammed after it reported the protests.

The crackdown was an apparent bid to halt a dramatic plunge in the value of Iran's currency this week.

On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Western sanctions were mostly to blame. But rivals said his economic mismanagement was the main cause.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed again that Iran would not cede to Western pressure over its disputed nuclear programme.

No transactions

"The aim of the pressure against the Iranian people is to make it yield. But it will never yield. That's why the enemy is angry," he said in a speech reported by the ISNA news agency.

Money changers said virtually no transactions were taking place in the market, making any valuation unreliable, but the rate was estimated to be around 36 000 to the dollar, about the same level as at the close of trade on Tuesday.

Online websites that normally track the currency market were censored, none giving the rial's value against the dollar.

A week ago, the rial was trading at around 22 000 to the greenback and at 13 000 a year ago.

The plunge has greatly increased inflation in Iran, which is widely seen as far higher than the official 23.5% cited by the central bank.

The US government has said it sees the rial's fall as proof Western sanctions are having a big impact on the Islamic republic's economy.

Activists arrested

But Ahmadinejad said that, even with the "psychological war on the exchange market", Iran would not be pressured into curbing its nuclear activities - the stated aim of the sanctions.

"We are not a people to retreat on the nuclear issue," he told a news conference in Tehran.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tehran was to blame.

"I think the Iranian government deserves responsibility for what is going on inside Iran, and that is who should be held accountable," Clinton said in Washington.

"Of course the sanctions have had an impact as well but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner."

The P5+1 - the six powers leading the nuclear negotiations with Iran - are seeking reassurances that Iran is not seeking covertly to develop a weapons capability. Tehran denies any military ambition and insists its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only.

On Tuesday, the UN human rights office expressed concern at the arrests and imprisonment of rights activists and journalists over the past two weeks.

Read more on:    mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  hillary clinton  |  us  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme  |  sanctions  |  nuclear
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.