Tehran’s cell phone market went on strike on Sunday June 24, with store owners and people marching in protest in Jomhouri (Republic) Avenue as the city’s Forex market, just a stone-throw away, recorded the highest value for US dollar against the Iranian currency rial.
Cell phone sellers decided it was impossible to sell any handset considering the exchange rate of over 90,000 rials per dollar. They said the rising exchange rate has brought about an uncertainty in the market which made cell phones extremely expensive for buyers.
User generated videos received by Radio Farda show buyers urging store owners to shut down and protest and the crowd pours into the street, with others joining them.
Meanwhile traders stopped buying and selling dollars at the unofficial forex market, aka the black market, Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported on Sunday.
The U.S. dollar rose from 80,000 rials to 90,000 in just one day.
The forex market also experienced a record high for other foreign currencies. GB Pound was traded for over 120,000 rials and Euro for 106,000 just before the market decided to close, the report said.
The market for gold coins also came to a standstill as the price of standard coin reached 32 million rials, almost three times its price in March.
Iranian media on Sunday reported protest gatherings at the Alaeddin and Charsou malls, the major cell phone and other digital appliances outlets in downtown Tehran on Sunday after shopkeepers closed their shops.
According to reformist news website Jamaran, protesters chanted slogans that reflected their concern as the price of dollar nears 100,000 rials. “We don’t want dollars at 100,000,” they shouted.
The report said protesters were marching toward Baharestan Square where the Iranian Parliament (Majles) is located when the police stopped them and dispersed the crowd.
ISNA reported on Saturday that the price of US dollar was rising in the market because of an increase in the official rate and the Central Bank’s inability to supply dollars to the markets and the banks.
The report said until last week, the Central Bank still tried various measures to control the rate of exchange for the dollar, but it has now stopped pouring dollars into the market.
The government does not officially recognize the free foreign exchange market and considers any trading outside the banking system a form of smuggling. Nevertheless, according to ISNA, the unofficial market has been active after the Rouhani administration imposed limitations on the market and attempted to force the price of 42,000 rials per dollar, which the market never respected.