TEHRAN, Iran: Iran has abruptly raised prices as much as 300 percent for a variety of staple foods, including cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk.
In the hours before the price hike took effect, many Iranians waited in long lines to buy food and emptied supermarket shelves across the country.
Also last week, Iran’s currency dropped to a low of 300,000 rial to the dollar.
Internet disruptions have been reported across Iran, as the government braced for possible unrest, advocacy group NetBlocks.org said.
Across the Middle East, food prices surged due to global supply chain issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which both export many essentials items.
Drought is also ravaging Iran’s economy, along with Western sanctions over Iran’s nuclear deal.
With inflation soaring to nearly 40 percent, the highest level since 1994, youth unemployment has also remained high. Iran’s Statistics Center reported some 30 percent of Iranian households are living below the poverty line.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to create jobs, lift sanctions and rescue the economy, but talks to revive the nuclear deal with world powers remain deadlocked.
As Iranians complain about the rising prices of flour, the top trending hashtag on Twitter in recent weeks has been #macaroni.
As she browsed a supermarket in Tehran, Mina Tehrani, a mother of three, told the Associated Press, “I am sure the government does not care about average people.”
Tehran resident Hassan Shahbazzadeh also complained that Iranians had forgone meat or dairy to save money, and now have nothing left to cut.
“Now, even macaroni is taken off their dining tables,” he said.
As online outrage over rising inflation increases, Iranian authorities appear to be bracing for the worst.
Last week, Article 19, a global research organization that fights censorship, reported that authorities have shut down almost all internet connectivity in cities across Khuzestan province.
Recent videos have appeared on social media of Iranians gathering in the streets of southern Khuzestan, chanting slogans against price hikes and against the country’s leaders.
“The issue of high prices is security-related. People cannot tolerate it anymore,” lawmaker Majid Nasserinejad was reported to have warned.