Protests triggered by price hikes spread in Iran

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Protests broke out in several Iranian cities late on Friday for a third consecutive night following a sharp rise in the prices of staple foods, videos shared on social media showed.

The protests were triggered by a government announcement on Thursday that the cost of staple foods such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk would rise as high as 300 percent.

Protests broke out in a number of cities on Friday, including Farsan, Dorud, Jooneghan, Cholicheh, Borujerd, Dehdasht, and Ardebil, according to videos shared on social media.

One video showed protesters chanting “death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei” in the city of Farsan in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, while another video showed protesters chanting “death to [President Ebrahim] Raisi” in the city of Borujerd in the western province of Lorestan.

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Sound of gunfire could be heard in some videos, including in one video from Borujerd, in which the person filming could be heard saying that security forces have opened fire on protesters. Sound of gunfire could also be heard in another video from Dorud.

Other videos showed heavy presence of security forces in several cities, including in Jooneghan and Cholicheh in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province.

State news agency IRNA said on Friday authorities had arrested 22 protesters. Most of those arrests took place in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, where the protests first began.

Food prices across the Middle East have surged due to global supply chain snarls and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which both export many essentials. Iran imports half of its cooking oil from Ukraine, where fighting has kept many farmers from the fields.

Although Iran produces roughly half of its own wheat, it imports much of the rest from Russia. The war has added to inflationary pressures. Smuggling of Iran’s highly subsidized bread into neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan has spiked as hunger spreads across the region.

Inflation has soared to nearly 40 percent in Iran, its highest level since 1994. Youth unemployment also remains high. Some 30 percent of Iranian households live below the poverty line, according to Iran’s Statistics Center.

With the Associated Press

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