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The Blue Movement?

by HOMYLAFAYETTE

03 Mar 2011 04:05Comments
4601.jpg4614.jpg[ media watch ] During President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's March 2 trip to Lorestan province, in western Iran, the protesters weren't waving green banners -- at least not the ones that the official ISNA photographer appears to have inadvertently snapped. A purple sign held up by one young man reads, "Swear to God, we've come to a breaking point from all the discrimination and injustice."

According to one long, white banner, "The workers of Parsilon are hungry." Parsilon, known as the "old wound" (zakhmeh kohneh) of Lorestan's industrial base, was once one of the largest textile manufacturers in the country. The torrent of cheap Chinese imports has been a major contributor to its decline. The plant, now $70 million in debt, was already facing dire problems at the beginning of Ahmadinejad's first term in 2005 -- it laid off more than 1,000 workers the following year. In 2010, the factory was shut down for ten months.

Reza Rahimi Nasab, who represents Khorramabad -- Lorestan's capital -- in the Majles (parliament), said late last year that the provincial unemployment rate had reached 40 percent. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the province, Hojatoleslam Seyyed Ahmad Miremadi, seemed to acknowledge the dearth of jobs on Tuesday. "The main issue facing the people of Lorestan is unemployment," he said. Though Miremadi refrained from providing any official count of the jobless, he recommended the launch of public works projects, according to Mehr News, including the construction of 800 mosques and 15 seminaries.

According to a report released yesterday at a conference organized by the Iranian statistics center, 45 to 55 percent of the urban population lives below the poverty line.

This economic discontent may stir into a wave of blue-collar protests, some analysts speculate.

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lorestan+fars.jpg


Fars News Agency didn't escape unscathed either. White protest sign reads, "We're hungry."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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