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Tehran bazaar reopens after currency protests

From Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
October 6, 2012 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tehran's main bazaar reopened for its first full day of business after protests
  • Sixteen people were arrested after the demonstrations
  • They were protesting the country's currency crisis

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Tehran's main bazaar reopened for its first full day of activity after demonstrations this week over the country's plummeting currency.

The bazaar was open Saturday, as were money exchange shops.

"The price of the dollar on the open market today dropped to (between) 28,500 and 29,000 rials, but the price of all foreign currencies, including the dollar, is still fluctuating and only a few transactions took place today," Mohammad Kashtiarai, head of the National Gold and Jewel Association, told the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

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Sixteen people were arrested Thursday, a day after police dispersed a crowd at the bazaar, where protesters were blaming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the high price of the dollar and goods in general.

Demonstrators chanted slogans opposing firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and decrying the skyrocketing cost of basic goods.

The rial's plummet to historic lows is the result of international sanctions, imposed largely by the United States and the European Union in an effort to pressure Iran to sit down for talks on its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad has insisted that sanctions hurt the people, not the government, and that the country's economy "has become a tool for psychological warfare."

The rial's value was cut in half from September of last year through last month, the Congressional Research Service said in a report. It has fallen even further since, including a sharp nosedive this week, reaching historic lows against the value of the dollar.

But protesters in Tehran blamed Ahmadinejad, chanting slogans against his regime and complaining about high prices.

Those arrested "were the main players in the recent fluctuations in the foreign currency market," the Tehran Judiciary said in a statement.

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