Dozens of Friday Prayer imams in Iran have urged the government to sort out economic problems, saying people are suffering under the pressure of rising prices.

Some clerics and para-military organizations have warned that the sudden rise in the price of items such as bread could lead to protests and riots.

Meanwhile, journalists in Tehran Friday reported on Twitter that the price of bread has risen nearly five-fold in Tehran despite statements by economic officials that higher flour prices would not affect traditional bread bought at neighborhood bakeries and the rise will be limited to baguettes and other western-style rolls.

The Friday Prayer Imam of Tehran, Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi Fard, said in his sermon that the government should focus its efforts on improving the nation's livelihood. He called on the government to explain the reasons of recent price increases and to make sure people understand that the government strives to compensate the higher cost of living by introducing economic reform.

On Tuesday, in Eid al-Fitr sermons, other clerics including firebrand Ahmad Khatami promised that the economic situation will improve but did not say how. Kazem Seddiqi, another prayer leader in Tehran had also expressed concern over the consequences of rising prices.

On Friday, imams in cities including Dayyer, Bojnourd, Zahedan, Shar-e Kord, Bushehr, Kermanshah, as well as many other cities warned the government that people are suffering from rising prices of bread and other everyday necessities.

Traditional Iranian flat breads at a bakery in Tehran.

In Tehran, the commander of the students Basij militia of the IRGC warned President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday that the situation could lead to a major riot in the country. Meanwhile, prominent reformist cleric Mohammad Taqi Fazel Maybodi also warned Raisi that "if the rise in prices is not controlled Iran should wait for riots more dangerous than a revolution."

Social media users in Iran on Friday shifted from complaints about the scarcity and high price of pasta to more serious complaints and warnings about the possible impact of the rising prices of all sorts of bread in Tehran.

Somaye Naghi, an economic journalist in Tehran wrote that they sent someone from the newspaper’s office to buy traditional stone-baked bread called Sangak, but they were told that the price has increased from 60,000 rials to 250,000 rials ($1) per loaf. She pointed out that's this comes while Raisi's Minister of Agriculture had promised the day before that the price of traditional bread will not rise and it will impact "luxury western-style" rolls.

In the meantime, many Iranian journalists have interpreted Vice President for Executive Affairs Solar Mortazavi's strong defense of doing away with cheap government dollars for importing essential commodities, including flour, as a sign that the living conditions for workers, teachers, pensioners and low wage earners will dramatically deteriorate.

The government has resorted to rationing bread in some cities and the general perception is that the practice is going to be widely introduced all over the country. Journalist Ameneh Mousavi wrote on Twitter that rationing has started in Zanjan.

None of the clerics who spoke about the rising price of bread on Friday talked about the impact of sanctions apparently because they find it difficult to explain why the country is under sanctions and why Iranian officials cannot negotiate with the United States to have the sanctions lifted. They fear this will offend Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is responsible for major decisions, including the talks with the United States.

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