Thousands of protesters gathered in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on Monday to rally against rising prices and the country’s sinking currency value which was caused in part by President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Merchants joined demonstrators by shutting down their shops and marching in the capital’s biggest protest since 2012, when internationally imposed sanctions began to devastate the country’s economy.
A video posted to social media show protesters chanted “Death to Rouhani,” the country’s president, and “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon” in reference to Iran’s support of proxy groups in the region. Police clashed with rioters and later fired tear gas at the demonstrators who were headed towards the parliament building.
Economic sanctions against Iran were lifted in the 2015 nuclear agreement in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. When Trump pulled out from the deal in May it stewed fears of renewed US sanctions, which are set to return in August, and has led to the collapse of the rial to record lows against the US dollar in unofficial exchange markets.
The dollar was being offered for as much as 87,000 rials on Monday, a jump from around 75,500 on Thursday, Reuters reported. The rial was at 42,890 at the end of 2017.
The country also banned imports on 1,300 products, including appliances, textiles, and healthcare in a move to resist US sanctions.
Tehran’s deputy governor Abdolazim Rezaie was quoted on state TV claiming no arrests were made during he protests and that all shops will reopen Tuesday.
Iranians across the country have been protesting the nation’s crumbling economy and government leadership for months.
Nearly 5,000 people were arrested from December to January during a bloody month of protests which expressed anger over the skyrocketing prices of basic necessities like eggs and poultry. Protests quickly moved to target Iran’s political leaders and calls were made for the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.
At least 21 people died during demonstrations, including an 11-year-old boy.
Since protests began, the government heightened its crackdown on social media and messaging services in order to curb dissent. In April, protesters began scrawling messages on banknotes in order to avoid censorship.