When more than a week ago tens of thousands of Iranians across the country started going to the streets protesting gasoline rises of up to 50%, security forces rapidly struck down.
In all of Iran, according to international human rights activists, more than 100 demonstrators have been killed, dozens wounded and thousands arrested. Analysts believe that the violent reaction of the government represents growing unity among the political elites of the country.
When protests over economic problems erupted in Iran two years ago, the authorities showed restraint before cracking finally. Experts say the reaction Rouhani makes it more difficult for the hard-liners to sideline their administration and isolate it politically expedient.
Shortly after the protests started on 15 November, Iranian authorities blocked almost all internet access, which made reading clearly on the number of people who died, were wounded or were arrested difficult.
More than 2,700 people have been arrested, according to the New York Human Rights Center in Iran. Amnesty International said that in clashes with security forces in several cities across Iran, at least 106 protestors were killed. Videos circulating in social media also indicate that peaceful protesters are being suppressed violently.
The decision to increase the prices of fuel is also a symbol of a political shrinking, arising from a meeting between heads of the three branches of government of Iran.
For years, Iranians have been struggling to achieve results because of a high unemployment economy and rising food and medicine prices. The fuel price increase, partly triggered by a decrease in government petrol subsidies, was a tip-off for many protestors.
According to the authorities, the price increase will help to provide government support for 60 million eligible Iranian people, many of whom live in rural areas, as well as teachers, students, public workers, aid workers, social workers, and female household leaders. It is reported that on Monday the Islamic Republic started payment handouts.
Rouhani, who first elected with almost 51% of the vote in 2013, had been seen as moderate and promising to give the Islamic Republic more social freedom. Hardliners, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guardia, had been openly criticized on various occasions.
But in the coming parliamentary elections in February this seems to be a turning point.