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Protests spread to other parts of Iran on Friday, as ordinary Iranians demanded the government restore food subsidies that have seen prices soar since they began earlier this week. Observers also note that the protests have taken on a decidedly more anti-regime tone over the past 48 hours.
Videos shared on social media show protesters shouting anti-regime slogans and, in two separate cases, attacking the offices of the much feared paramilitary Basij militia. Other images featured on the Foreign Desk website show a red vehicle believed to be spraying protesters with an unknown fluid, possibly tear gas.
Demonstrators, showing no fear of reprisals from state security services, were heard shouting “Death to Khamenei! Death to Raisi!” referring to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who promised to create jobs, lift sanctions and save the economy.
IRAN PROTESTS BREAK ACROSS THE COUNTRY Amid RISE IN FOOD PRICES
Lisa Daftari, Iran expert and editor of The Foreign Desk news site, told Fox News Digital that protests have spread to several more of Iran’s 31 provinces, including Khuzestan, Lorestan, Kurdistan , Isfahan, Kermanshah, Hamedan, Sistan, Rasht, Azerbaijan, Chaharmahal Bakhtiari and Shahrekord and Ardabil.
Daftari said: “Over the past decade, the people of Iran have done a tremendous job as citizen journalists to tell the world what the real plight of the Iranian people is and how distorted their regime is in the mainstream media. . While the Biden administration, similar to the Obama administration, is busy obfuscating the facts about a brutal and repressive regime that is not interested in changing its ways, the people of Iran are suffering. They tell us their real stories.
The Associated Press, citing information from Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, said some 22 protesters had been arrested since last night. Iran’s UN mission in New York did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
EXPECT A NUCLEAR DOMINO EFFECT IN THE MIDDLE EAST IF IRAN GETS WEAPON CAPABILITIES
As the protests continue, the Biden administration is still seeking to join the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While there is growing opposition in Congress to the US returning to the deal, the administration continues to push to return to it. The agreement was signed by President Obama in 2015 and President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018.
In a week in which two European citizens were arrested for spying in Iran, the Reuters news agency reported on Friday that a State Department official said the United States appreciated the efforts made. by the EU in its efforts to reinvigorate the agreement. Negotiations have stalled in recent weeks.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and an expert on Iran, told Fox News Digital that the protests were part of a larger anti-government trend.
“It would be yet another mistake to view these protests as isolated or simply economic. They are part of a growing trend of anti-regime protests that use social, economic and environmental issues to claim their desire for accountable and representative government. , ” he said.
He said the administration must take note of what is happening. “Just over a decade ago, some slogans chanted by Iranian protesters over the death of the Supreme Leader or in support of Iran’s former monarch dynast would have been taboo. Now they are commonplace. Washington does not can’t afford to ignore this transition,” he said.
Iran sharply hiked prices by up to 300% for a variety of staples such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk on Thursday. Dozens of alarmed Iranians lined up to collect food packets and emptied supermarket shelves across the country in the hours before the price hike took effect.
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Although Iran produces about half of its own wheat, it imports much of the rest from Russia. The war added to inflationary pressures.
The government is trying to act quickly to ease the pain. Authorities have promised to pay each Iranian citizen about $14 a month to offset the price hikes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.