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Economic protests challenge Iran’s leaders as hopes for nuclear deal fade

The current unrest recalls waves of protests that have broken out in recent years, including in 2019, when demonstrations were sparked by fuel price increases. Hundreds were killed and thousands of people were arrested during the protests in dozens of cities, according to human rights groups. The latest protests have been smaller in size and focused in heavily impoverished areas, including the Khuzestan province in southwest Iran, a frequent site of popular discontent.

In several places, the protests quickly took a political turn with Iranians chanting slogans against President Ebrahim Raisi and even the country’s highest authority and supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A violent crackdown by the authorities on the protests has resulted in at least five deaths and scores of arrests, according to human rights activists and posts on social media sites.

Videos posted online show protesters scrambling through streets while taking fire from security forces and being tear-gassed.

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