Thousands of people poured into the streets in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Thursday protesting rising prices and the general failure of the Islamic Republic in creating jobs, fighting corruption and providing a minimal degree of welfare.
Thanks to social media hundreds of video clips and photos were posted online of angry protesters chanting anti-government slogans.
“Death to the dictator”, “Death to [Hassan] Rouhani”, “Don’t be afraid, we are together”, “Not Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran” were reportedly among the slogans.
During the street protests in 2009, “Death to the dictator” was generally perceived as directed at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
There have been many single-issue protests recently in Iran, but this latest outburst in Mashhad were more reminiscent of the anti-regime protests of eight years ago than workers strikes or smaller gatherings of cheated bank depositors.
According to some opposition sources hundreds of people were detained by security forces during the demonstrations, but an official of Mashhad's prosecutor's office put the number of at 52.
Security forces used water cannons and teargas to confront and disperse the crowds, which led to clashes and injuries.
In addition to Mashhad, there were smaller protests in a few other cities including Birjand, Kashmar, Noushahr, Neyshabour and Yazd.
In some of the clips posted on social media, demonstrators are heard chanting slogans lauding the pre-revolution era.
“Long live Reza Shah”, a reference to the first Pahlavi king who is deemed as the architect of modern Iran. Reza Shah was also well-known for his secular politics. Another slogan was “Iran haphazard, without the Shah”, apparently referring to the late king of Iran, Mohammadreza Shah Pahlavi, who was forced into exile in 1979 giving way to the the rise of a theocracy in Iran.
Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran after the capital city Tehran. It is also home to the holiest site in Iran, the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shi’ia Imam.