Iranian anti-government protesters chant 'Death to Rouhani'

Here’s something you don’t see every day. People in Iran are taking to the streets to protest with some calling for an end to the country’s theocratic government. The protests started Thursday in response to poor economic conditions but seem to be spreading and becoming a more generalized opposition to the country’s regime. From the BBC:

The protests on Thursday started with anger at the inability of the government of President Hassan Rouhani to control prices – the cost of eggs has doubled in a week.

However, some developed into broader anti-government protests, calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to police beatings.

There were also chants in Mashhad of “not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran”, a reference to what protesters say is the administration’s focus on foreign policy rather than domestic issues…

The demonstrations have taken the Iranian authorities by surprise. Impromptu anti-government demonstrations are rare in a country where the Revolutionary Guard and numerous intelligence agencies have a strong grip on the population.

The Guardian clarifies that the Iranian equivalent of labor protests are not unusual in the country, but in this case, those protests seem to have quickly become political:

Purely political protests are rare in Iran. The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests. Pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged.

Workers often organise demonstrations, however, over layoffs or non-payment of salaries, as do people who hold deposits in bankrupt financial institutions…

Rouhani’s leading achievement, a 2015 deal with world powers that curbed Iran’s disputed nuclear programme in return for the lifting of most international sanctions, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.

Unemployment stood at 12.4% in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4% from the previous year.

Instead of chanting “Death to America” these Iranian protesters are chanting “Death to Rouhani.”

And this anti-government sentiment appears to be spreading rapidly to other cities:

Here’s more chanting against theocracy:

This woman appears to be braver (or more desperate) than all the rest. She’s chanting “Death to Khamenei.”

There are also clips suggesting the regime is already taking steps to quash the demonstrations:

It’s too much to expect these small protests will lead to any lasting change in Iran’s government but it does suggest the regime’s hold on the country is more precarious than anyone might have imagined.