TEHRAN : – Iranian officials reported fresh protests over the struggling economy on Friday, a day after dozens were arrested in second city Mashhad.
First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri suggested hardline opponents of the government may be behind the demonstrations, which spread to Tehran and the city of Kermanshah in western Iran on Friday,
“Some incidents in the country these days are on the pretext of economic problems, but it seems there is something else behind them,” Jahangiri said in comments carried by state broadcaster IRIB.
“They think by doing this they harm the government,” he said, but “it will be others who ride the wave”.
He said they were “under the influence of propaganda” and were “unaware that the majority of these calls to protest come from abroad”.
The rally in Kermanshah appeared larger — with hundreds shown protesting in videos shared on social media — and was reportedly focused on those who lost money in the collapse of unauthorised lending institutions in recent years.
“Protesters asked for clarifications on the fate of their accounts and police dealt with them with tolerance despite them having no permission to protest.
It came a day after 52 people were arrested in Mashhad, an important pilgrimage site, for protesting high prices and the poor state of the economy under President Hassan Rouhani.
One lawmaker said these protests were also rooted in the collapse of credit institutions and other financial scandals.
Unauthorised lending institutions mushroomed under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad due to weak regulation of the banking sector.