Gas Price Protests in Iran Turn Violent

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Gas Price Protests in Iran Turn Violent

Tiffany Zhu, Staff Writer

On Friday, Nov. 15, the Iranian government made the decision to raise gas prices by at least 50%. The Supreme Council of Economic Coordination made a move to cut back on gasoline subsidies in an attempt to increase funds to help Iran’s poor. Due to the increased gas prices, Iranian people will now pay 15,000 rials, or $0.127, per liter of gas for their first 60 liters each month. Although Iran’s gas prices are the cheapest in the world, the price of other basic necessities have risen dramatically.  

The sudden decision sparked protests across Iran. The protests have turned violent, with brutal clashes between protesters and the police. At one point, Iranian police forces fired their guns at protesters. At least one person has died in the protests. Some protesters have resorted to burning public property. Across Iran, drivers abandoned their cars on highways to join protesters, causing traffic jams. If the acts of violence continue, Iran’s Interior Minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazil, has said that security forces will take action against the protesters.

In an attempt to control the situation, the government has restricted Internet access across the country. “Iran is in the midst of a near-total national Internet shutdown,” the cybersecurity monitoring group NetBlocks said in a statement.   

The economic sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on Iran have negatively impacted the nation’s middle class and poor. After the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord, President Trump’s administration enforced a “maximum pressure” policy to pressure Iran to end its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions that the U.S imposed have taken a toll on Iran’s trade. Since Iran’s oil exports have fallen dramatically, its citizens struggle to keep up with the cost of living. 

According to 2017 United Nations estimates, Iran’s median salary is $3,300 a year. Due to rising costs, some are no longer able to afford fresh produce and have resorted to buying rotting food. Many Iranians have cut down on spending, hurting local businesses. Majid Taleghani, a publisher and bookstore owner said, “Books are not affordable for most people, so people prefer to watch TV and not read books.” 

The government is working on taking steps to prevent the prices of goods from further inflating. To reach their goal of helping middle-class and lower income people, President Hassan Rouhani has expressed, “We must either increase taxes, export more oil or decrease subsidies and return them back to those in need.” 

Photo courtesy of WHOWHATWHY.ORG