THE IRANIAN government seemed to know that its decision to hike the price of heavily subsidised fuel would be met with widespread anger. It waited
THE IRANIAN government seemed to know that its decision to hike the price of heavily subsidised fuel would be met with widespread anger. It waited until midnight on November 15th, the start of the Iranian weekend, to unveil the move: a 50% increase on the price of the first 60 litres of petrol purchased each month, and a 200% increase on purchases above 60 litres. But it may have been surprised by the intensity of the protests that followed.
Across the country protesters have blocked traffic, torched banks and burnt petrol stations. The worst unrest has occurred in Khuzestan, an oil-rich province with a high poverty rate. Some protesters have called for the downfall of President Hassan Rouhani; others want Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, to go. “Mullahs get lost,” they shout, while burning portraits of Iran’s clerical rulers.
The regime is not backing down. It has responded with force in some places. Six people are reported to have been killed. The internet has been turned off. Many politicians tried to deflect blame for the decision to hike petrol prices, but Mr Khamenei shut them down by publicly backing the move on November 17th. He called the protesters “thugs” and blamed the unrest on “all of the centres of villainy around the world that oppose us.”