TEHRAN – Last year, Tehran’s writers, doctors and small-business owners formed the backbone of a grass-roots opposition movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now these middle-class urbanites feel they’re being singled out by a government plan that will soon cut off state subsidies and boost the prices of a wide array of everyday products.
Members of Iran’s middle class are already bearing the brunt of U.S. and European sanctions intended to curtail the country’s nuclear weapons program. But in the coming weeks they expect to be hit again, when the cost of gasoline, bread, electricity and other staples are set to increase to market levels, with some prices possibly rising as much as tenfold. While the rural poor will be partly compensated by direct cash handouts from the state, many in Iran’s cities will have to fend for themselves.