Facing mounting economic woes and angry protesters, Iranian officials are generating some interesting ideas as to how to move forward.
Demonstrations over the rising prices of everyday goods and the free-falling value of the Iranian rial, the national currency, broke out in Tehran on June 24. Since then shopkeepers have gone on strike, traders have massed outside parliament, and protesters have clashed with riot police as the demonstrations expanded to other cities.
While publicly downplaying the severity of the protests and suggesting that they had been nipped in the bud, the authorities appear wary of a repeat of the large-scale demonstrations that broke out in December, when Iran saw the biggest expression of public discontent in almost a decade. Those demonstrations, which began over economic hardships, spread to more than 80 Iranian cities and towns and resulted in the deaths of at least 25 people.
So, with the clerical establishment facing the conundrum of what to do next, government, military, and judicial officials have offered some suggestions that range from the wacky to the alarming.
'Liquidate' Your Gold
"The administration needs the nation's support," Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht was quoted as saying by the news site Khabaronline.ir on June 26. "We ask all those who have foreign exchange and gold in their homes to liquidate them into the market to boost [domestic] production."