Several hundred Iranians have staged a second day of anti-government street protests in Iran’s third-largest city, Isfahan, in a sign of persistent public anger about the country’s economic woes.
Video clips verified by VOA Persian and sent by residents showed the protesters marching and chanting opposition slogans on Wednesday in Isfahan’s northern district of New Shapur, the same area where hundreds of anti-government demonstrators had marched the day before.
Residents said they were protesting sharply higher prices for imported products due to the dollar’s recent surge to record highs against the rial in unofficial trading. Other grievances include poverty and unemployment.
In one video clip, tires can be seen burning on a street after having been set alight by protesters, who chanted: “[Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, have some shame. Free the country.”
In a second clip, marchers can be heard chanting: “The silence of any Iranian [in response to Iran’s current problems] is a betrayal against the country.”
In a third clip showing a large number of the protesters, a male security officer can be heard using a megaphone to order people not to move any further, but the crowd appeared to ignore him.
In calls from Iran to the Wednesday edition of VOA Persian's Straight Talk call-in show, a woman who identified herself as Sheyda from the southern part of Isfahan said she heard that security forces have been reluctant to confront the protesters in the New Shapur district to the north. She said she believes some of the security personnel are worried that a violent crackdown on protests will hurt their careers if Iran's Islamist government falls.
In another call, a man who gave his name as Shahab from the northern city of Rasht said he was in Isfahan and saw many protesters on the streets. "We can solve our problems through the protests," he said. "It might take some time, but eventually the protesters can get what they want, and they should not be disappointed [with the reaction of the authorities]."
Elsewhere, at least a thousand Iranians joined an anti-government protest in the city of Karaj, adjacent to the capital, Tehran, on Tuesday night, according to images received and verified by VOA Persian.
One video clip showed security officers on the other side of a street walking among and apparently assaulting some of the protesters. The assaults also could be seen in other online images of the protest.
The demonstrators who marched in Karaj’s Gohardasht district also expressed frustration about the government’s handling of Iran’s economic problems. Some chanted a slogan with a message to their Islamist rulers: Military force cannot stop us, mullahs get out.
Iran has seen frequent nationwide street protests this year involving dozens to hundreds and occasionally thousands of people. Protesters have been venting anger toward local and national officials and business leaders they accuse of mismanagement, corruption and oppression. Iranian leaders often have deflected the domestic criticism by blaming the unrest on foreign “enemies.”
Behrooz Samadbeygi and Afshar Sigarchi of VOA's Persian service contributed to this report.