Iran's mass protests were triggered by publication of a budget that revealed the costs of Shia evangelism

For more than a month, Iran has been rocked by mass demonstrations in its major and outlying cities, but the origin of these protests has been obscure.

It seems that the protests were sparked by the unprecedented publication of the full national budget, which revealed increased spending for Revolutionary Guards and especially their secret wings and affiliates who work to shore up Shia groups abroad, especially in Syria and Iraq; it also revealed the funds allocated to backing Shia causes in Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza.

The spending infuriated Iranians workers who had been struggling under austerity blamed on sanctions that had been partially lifted under the terms of the Iranian nuclear deal — and they took to the streets.

It's widely believed the national protests began in the north-eastern city of Mashad. However, 10 days before the break out of the national protest movement, citizens were already publicly expressing their anger on the streets at the draft budget. On the message sharing app Telegram, member of parliament Mohammad Taghi Akbarnejad shared his experience walking anonymously among people demonstrating in front of the parliament building:

I was in the middle of the protests, and a woman in her late 50s came to me and asked, 'Are you an MP?' I answered, 'I am here like you.' She told me, 'If you can go to parliament, tell them I made a mistake becoming a teacher. You've turned as all into beggars. Please tell Mr. Khamenei, tell the president, tell everyone, tell them we are desperate. We don't need this revolution. We hate the clerics.'

Later a woman in her 60s approached me calmly to tell me to hide my clerical robe. 'The people are thirsty for your blood!!!'

I didn't take any of this personally, I tried to show solidarity.

The Draft Budget That Inflamed Protests in Iran [Tori Egherman/Global Voices]

(Image:, PD)