Protests and clashes erupted Wednesday in Tehran, according to eyewitnesses, after the arrest of illegal currency dealers by the security forces. This development took place while the Iranian currency has declined due to the growing pressure of the international sanctions.
Hundreds of riot police were deployed in the area of Ferdossi to act against illegal currency dealers. They ordered the closure of all local outlets. Several people were arrested while garbage trucks were burned. Protestors threw stones at police and against a police car before fleeing, witnesses said.
“We dropped the curtains because of the police raid came to arrest the illegal dealers,” a stockbroker official conveyed. Most shops were also closed in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran due to uncertainties on the currency situation. “We closed because we do not know what will happen” with the dollar, said a dealer.
Nevertheless, the Rial appeared to stabilize as of Wednesday mid-day with a rate of 34,000 rials for the dollar against a price of 36,000 Rials for the dollar Tuesday afternoon and 22,000 eight days ago. But there were virtually no transactions.
A senior police Colonel Khalil Helali said that the police would “take action” against the merchants who closed their stores to “disrupt” the situation.
The police chief had earlier announced the establishment of a committee to prevent decline of the currency and fight against “those who disrupt the market activities.”
“A group, including members of the government’s economic ministry and police commanders, was created to fight against those who disrupt the currency market,” said the commander of the national police, General Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, who was quoted by Fars news agency. “According to the evaluation of the Central Bank, people keep at their homes a large amount of foreign currency and gold, which has a negative effect on the economy,” he added. “Unfortunately, some people think that their capital will vanish (due to the collapse of the currency note) and flock to the currency and gold markets, which increases the demand and prices,” he said.