Iran arrests demonstrators in 2nd day of anti-regime protests

The footage, published by small reformist media group Nazar, also showed people shouting "not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran", reflecting anger in some circles that the government is focusing too much on regional politics rather than tackling domestic problems.

Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent.

"Greetings to the heroic citizens of Kermanshah, who rose up with the slogan of either death or freedom, death to Rouhani, death for the dictator, protesting against high prices, poverty and corruption", Iranian opposition leader Mariam Rajavi said in a tweet.

A Reuters report said videos on social media showed demonstrators in Mashhad in northwest Iran chanting "Death to (President Hassan) Rouhani" and "Death to the Dictator".

The semi-official Fars news agency reported that officials said around 300 protesters gathered in the western city of Kermanshah, the scene of a devastating quake in November that killed over 600 residents.

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The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests.

However, demonstrations are often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries and by people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people took part in Thursday's protests, though social media posts suggest several thousand likely demonstrated at rallies across at least three other cities.

In an address delivered earlier Thursday in the city of Sabzevar (roughly 220 kilometers east of Mashhad), prominent preacher Ahmad Alamolhoda declared: "In terms of economic management, welfare and overall living conditions, we have been deeply embarrassed by decades of government maladministration".

Separately on Friday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that around 300 protesters also gathered in the western city of Kermanshah to protest the price hikes, damaging some public property.

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Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, the Mashhad governor, as saying there was an illegal "No To High Prices" gathering in the city.

"They stole our country" and "left Syria. focused on us instead" the protestors shouted in criticism of Iran's deployment of troops in support of Bashar al-Assad's regime in the face of an uprising that broke out against him in 2011.

So has inflation, which Iran's Central Bank says has returned to 10 percent.

The economy has improved since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal lifted sanctions on the country, but the effects have yet to trickle down to ordinary Iranians.

Mashhad was among the areas hardest hit by the closure of Mizan, which had around one million accounts, according to the official IRNA news agency.

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  • Ryan Wade