Working Class Fuels Unrest in Iran

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An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of tear gas during an antigovernment protest at the University of Tehran. — AFP/Getty Images

Unemployment is around 30 per cent, far above the official national rate of more than 12 per cent. Young people graduate and find no work.

CAIRO (AP) — The Iranian town of Doroud should be a prosperous place — nestled in a valley at the junction of two rivers in the Zagros Mountains, it’s in an area rich in metals to be mined and stone to be quarried. Last year, a military factory on the outskirts of town unveiled production of an advanced model of tanks.

Yet local officials have been pleading for months for the government to rescue its stagnant economy. Unemployment is around 30 per cent, far above the official national rate of more than 12 per cent. Young people graduate and find no work. The local steel and cement factories stopped production long ago and their workers haven’t been paid for months. The military factory’s employees are mainly outsiders who live on its grounds, separate from the local economy.

“Unemployment is on an upward path,” Majid Kiyanpour, the local parliament representative for the town of 170,000, told Iranian media in August. “Unfortunately, the state is not paying attention.”

That’s a major reason Doroud has been a front line in the protests that have flared across Iran over the past week. Several thousand residents have been shown in online videos marching down Doroud’s main street, shouting, “Death to the dictator!”

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