The media reported on Friday that rising bread prices sparked protests in Iran, with some businesses being set on fire, causing authorities to arrest hundreds of “provocateurs.”
A reduction in government subsidies for imported wheat sparked the demonstrations, resulting in price increases of up to 300 percent for a range of flour-based staples.
Iran’s stated inflation rate is about 40%, although other experts believe it is closer to 50%. Almost half of Iran’s 82 million people are currently living in poverty.
In the next months, the government intends to distribute digital vouchers for limited quantities of bread at subsidised rates. The remainder will be sold at market rates. Later, more food products will be introduced.
According to the media, there were isolated protests in a number of locations, in which people yelled anti-price slogans and some stores were set on fire.
A total of 22 persons were detained.
“Despite provocateurs’ attempts to provoke demonstrators, security officers intervened and the rallies ceased,” media said, adding that peace had been restored.
Security officers dispersed an estimated 300 protesters in Dezful, in the oil-rich southern province of Khuzestan, according to media reports. According to the report, 15 persons were detained in the city for “attempting to create mayhem.”
On Thursday, media reported that some 200 people demonstrated in Shahr-e Kord, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari provinces in western Iran.
“The demonstration was called off at the request of law enforcement officers to avoid thugs from taking advantage of the situation,” the media said.
Iranian media claimed last week that internet services had been blocked, presumably in an attempt to prevent the use of social media to organize protests and circulate recordings.
While Iran’s state media acknowledged the demonstrations for the first time on Friday, footage posted on social media this week showed demonstrators in Dezful and other cities shouting slogans against price rises and the country’s leaders.
Wheat prices have risen dramatically worldwide since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, increasing the expense of Iranian subsidies.
Iranian officials have also attributed the price increases on the smuggling of subsidised bread into Iraq and Afghanistan.