Iranian police tried to disperse protesters in Tehran on Wednesday, while some shopkeepers decided to close their stores in protest at a sharp plunge in Iran's currency, the rial.
Riot police have reportedly fired tear gas at demonstrators in central and northern Tehran, where angry protesters targeted the Iranian government's fiscal policies and set fire to rubbish bins in anger.
The areas affected by the protests are among the major commercial zones of the capital and host a substantial number of currency exchange bureaus, traders and shopkeepers.
Some parts of Tehran's grand bazaar (market) were shut down, eyewitnesses said, while heavy security presence taking place in the city centre, Mehr news agency reported.
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The Iranian rial has hit a record low against the U.S. dollar in the recent days, loosing roughly half its value since last week, spurring a currency crisis that some experts say is a sign that Western economic sanctions imposed over the country's disputed nuclear programme are taking a toll on ordinary people.
Access to currency tracking websites like mazanex.com and livedata.ir was blocked this evening, and similar websites avoided to report live the price of some foreign currencies.
The semi-official Mehr news agency said two European nationals were arrested while gathering news on the ground. Demonstrators asked Iranian shopkeepers to close their stores, and scores of people gathered outside the central bank. Some shops have brought down their shutters in solidarity with the angry crowd, a report said. Text messages circulated in recent days, calling on shopkeepers to stage a strike on Wednesday.
The head of Tehran's bazaar unions, Ahmad Karimi-Esfahani, confirmed that there were limited protests in the capital and said to a news agency that Tehran Bazaar was closed due to security concerns of shopkeepers. He also asked the police to take action on disrupters (protesters) and anticipated the Bazaar to reopen tomorrow.
In a press conference yesterday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed Western sanctions, psychological war and speculators inside the country for the on-going currency crisis.