The ancient Iranian city of Kazeroon has withstood the test of time, but it might not survive a controversial municipal plan to carve it up.
Founded along a Sasanian-era trade route in the 5th century, well before Islam came to Persia, the southwestern city's future is now tied to a controversial proposal that would partition parts of the city and merge them into a new town, cutting Kazeroon off from historic landmarks and redistributing scarce water supplies in the arid area.
The plan, proposed by a local lawmaker and endorsed by Tehran, enraged many of Kazeroon's 140,000 residents, who had staged peaceful protests in recent months to air their frustrations. Last week, that anger boiled over when demonstrations turned violent, deadly, and against the government.
Iranian authorities say at least two protesters have been killed, dozens wounded -- reportedly including police -- and scores arrested since May 16, when clashes broke out between riot police and angry demonstrators.
In an attempt to defuse the tense situation, authorities announced on May 17 they had put the plan on hold, but confrontations between protesters and police have continued as local officials become embroiled in a blame game over responsibly for the unrest.