Iran: Protest over soaring cost of living

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In Mashhad, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, the leader of Friday prayers who is seen as a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that protesters shouldn't allow their concerns "to become fodder for the foreign media, which wants to sow sedition". The province bore the brunt of a November 14 natural disaster that killed at least 530 people and injured some 8,000 in Iran, leaving many others without shelter.

Videos posted on social media showed some protesters in Mashhad chanting slogans including "Death to the dictator" and "Death to Rohani", with police using water cannons to push back the crowds.

The editor-in-chief of the reformist news network Nazar, Payam Parhiz, wrote on Twitter that it was not clear what person or group organised the protest in Mashhad. Protests have even been held in Qom, a holy city home to powerful clerics.

The security deputy of Tehran's governor, Mohsen Hamedani, said that fewer than 50 people gathered at a public square in Tehran, and that majority left after a police warning but a few chose to stay on.

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Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent. Protesters also waved banners denouncing Iran's interference in the Arab region.

Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a Rohani ally, suggested that hard-line opponents of the president may have started the protests in Mashhad.

The semiofficial Ilna news agency reported there were smaller protests in Neyshabour, Kashmar, Yazd, and Shahroud.

The prices of many basic goods, including eggs, have recently increased by 30-40 percent. Demonstrators reportedly gathered to protest rising prices in the country, alleged corruption in the government and Iran's involvement other in regional conflicts. He added that social movements that start on the streets don't always remain under the control of those that started them.

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