Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Tehran on 3 October amid a currency crisis, which has seen the Iranian rial plunge against the US dollar.

The rial had fallen by 40 per cent over the previous week hitting an all-time low of IR37,500 to the dollar on the free market, having been trading at IR24,600 on 24 September. The currency has lost 80 per cent of its value since the same time last year.

The protests came as the government began a crackdown on black market money changers in the capital in an attempt to stop the currency’s slide. Merchants at the capital’s Grand Bazaar went on strike in solidarity with the currency traders, while business owners gathered in groups chanting anti-government slogans, according to international media reports. Police were seen using batons and tear gas to disperse crowds

The US government has used the plummeting value of the rial as evidence that its financial sanctions against the Islamic republic, aimed at Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, were working. However, some Iranian officials have also blamed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for alleged economic mismanagement.

Yahya Ale-Eshagh, the chairman of Tehran’s chairman of commerce, said that “part of this tumult is due to sanctions” and that it was part of a Western economic war against Iran, according to Iran’s Mehr news agency. However, he also said “the person who is not able to manage in a time of crisis should not continue working in his post”.

Iran faces a number of chronic economic problems driven by the US-led sanctions and the government’s subsidy reform programme, which have seen the country facing flat growth, high unemployment, rising inflation, falling oil revenues and a plunge in the value of the rial.

In February, the US enforced comprehensive sanctions against its financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Iran, which isolated Iran from the foreign exchange market.