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Outraged Iranians Protest Ahmadinejad’s Economic Policies as Currency Plummets

Iranian riot police stand next to a garbage container which was set on fire by protesters in central Tehran, near the main bazaar, on Wednesday. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets of Tehran Wednesday, amid the backdrop of Iran’s economic crisis. Police fired tear gas at a crowd outraged by the free-falling of Iran’s currency — the rial. The rial has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar in the past week and two-thirds of its value since last summer, prompting demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic policies.

The people of Tehran march against the regime on Wednesday.

Economic sanctions from the West over Iran’s nuclear program have cut the country’s oil profits, thus crippling the central bank’s ability to support the currency. Concerned Iranians are rushing to buy more stable currencies, pushing the rial’s value down further.

Iran’s weakening rial and 25 percent inflation rate are also a threat to jobs, living standards and daily life. Tehran’s main bazaar was closed Wednesday because shopkeepers were unable to quote accurate prices. Instead, the same square, whose merchants played a key role in the 1979 revolution, served as the nucleus of Wednesday’s protests.

Despite mounting economic pressure to slow Iran’s nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the country would not change its policy. “If anyone thinks that they can put pressure on Iran, they are certainly wrong and they must correct their behavior,” he said Tuesday. He told reporters the Western sanctions amounted to a “psychological war” that’s only hurting the people of Iran.

Regardless of where Ahmadinejad places the blame for his country’s economic woes, the people of Tehran continue to march against the regime.

Below is another video of the Tehran demonstrations that popped up on YouTube Wednesday:

And for more NewsHour coverage of Iran’s economy, check out Margaret Warner’s interview from January about how sanctions on Iranian oil have affected the Iranian people and government:

Read the full transcript here.

View all of our World coverage.

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