Tehran (AFP) – Traders in the Iranian capital’s Grand Bazaar held a rare protest strike Monday against the collapse of the rial on the foreign exchange market as demonstrators also took to the streets.
At a crossroads in central Tehran, police fired tear gas at dozens of youths shouting slogans and throwing stones, an AFP photographer said.
“The demands of bazaar traders are legitimate. They want the situation on the foreign exchange market to be clarified once and for all,” Abdollah Esfiandari, head of the historical covered market’s administrative board, told ISNA news agency.
He said the protest was against “the high exchange rate, foreign currency fluctuations… goods being blocked at customs, and the lack of clear criteria for duties”.
Shops had their metal shutters down throughout the market, said 45-year-old carpet trader who grew up in the area. “It’s the first time in my life that I have seen this.”
Iran’s currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.
“Anti-riot police intervened” to disperse a protest in the Grand Bazaar, making two arrests, according to another carpet merchant.
Iran has faced mounting economic woes since the United States in May pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers that lifted international sanctions in exchange for a scaling back of the Islamic republic’s atomic programme.