Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s Iran: Neither freedom nor bread

Photo Credit: Aieman (flickr)

Photo Credit: Aieman (flickr)

In the wake of the June 12, 2009 presidential election, millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest against electoral fraud. Today, the Great Bazaar of Tehran, the traditional heart of Iran’s economy, ignored the warnings of the police, and went on strike as merchants and consumers alike took to the streets to protest against the economic incompetence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Desperation of the Iranian public is hardly surprising: Iranians earn their salary in rials, but they must pay for foodstuff and consumer goods in U.S. dollars because foodstuff and consumer goods are imported. As the price of the U.S. dollar has risen to 40,000 rial – compared to ca. 10,000 rial twelve months ago – Iranian families see their meager savings disappearing.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the president both consistently blame the United States and the international sanctions regime for Iran’s economic problems, but the public thinks otherwise.

Slogans chanted in today’s anti-government rallies included: “Incompetent government, resign, resign!” “Honorable bazaar merchant, support [us], support [us],” and in the face of the anti-riot police the demonstrators chanted: “Don’t be afraid, we are all together.” There were also bitter chants against the Islamic Republic’s economic support to Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime in Syria: “Let Syria alone, think about us!”

There is neither freedom nor bread for people in Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s Iran.

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