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Protesters interrupt Ahmadinejad’s speech

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A speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a southern port town was marred Monday by shouts from Iranians demanding jobs, a rare show of public discontent over the country’s worsening economy.
Ahmadinejad was speaking before hundreds gathered in Khorramshahr, about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, when his speech was interrupted by people shouting “We are unemployed!”
Iran’s economy is struggling under double-digit inflation, 25 percent unemployment and three rounds of U.N. sanctions imposed over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. The West suspects the program aims at making nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies and says it’s for peaceful purposes such as power generation. Iran is facing a possible fourth round of U.N. sanctions over the program.
The president, whose public events are carefully controlled, calmly continued and did not seem distracted by the disruption. But he later promised the government would cut import taxes up to 25 percent for Khorramshahr and the surrounding oil-rich Khuzestan province.
“There are two important tasks on the shoulder of the Iranian nation: reconstruction of Iran and an effective and strong presence in the global effort for reform and justice,” Ahmadinejad said before the disruption.
He also used the occasion to reiterate his anti-Western rhetoric, claiming that if the West continues to deny Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy, the Iranian youth will “slap the mouth of the enemies.”
Ahmadinejad’s trip to Khorramshahr marked the town’s 1982 liberation after an 18-month Iraqi occupation during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war. Khorramshahr’s population is half Arab. The town, affluent before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has over the past decade complained of slow reconstruction and poor living standards, including lack of potable water and power shortages.

source: The Washington Post

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