Iran arrests Europeans accused of playing a role in unrest

Iran arrests Europeans accused of playing a role in unrest
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  • Woman’s death in custody of morality police sparks protests
  • Revolt against clergy grows
  • Iran blames hostile West for fueling unrest
  • The official said 19 people were killed in the attack on the police station.

DUBAI, September 30 (Reuters) – Iran, which blames “xenophobics” for the protests that swept the country after a woman was killed in custody by the morality police, said on Friday it had arrested nine European nationals for their role in the uprising.

The detention of nationals from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and other countries is likely to increase tensions between Iran and Western countries over Mahsa Amini’s death.

The increase comes as more casualties are reported. An official said 19 people were killed when security forces opened fire on armed protesters who attacked a police station.

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Tehran responded to international condemnation of the case by firing on critics, accusing the United States of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilize Iran.

The Ministry of Intelligence said in a statement by Iranian media that nine unidentified people were detained “during the riots or plotting in the background”.

Amini, 22, from the Iranian Kurdish town of Saqez, was arrested in Tehran this month for “inappropriate dress” by the morality police of the Islamic Republic, which enforces the strict dress code for women.

His death sparked the first major protest on the streets of Iran since authorities suppressed protests against the rise in gasoline prices in 2019. The demonstrations quickly turned into a popular uprising against the clergy.

Demonstrations spread from Amini’s hometown to all 31 provinces of Iran and attracted all strata of society, including ethnic and religious minorities.

Fearing an ethnic uprising and a show of force, Iran this week fired missiles and drones at targets in the Kurdish region of neighboring northern Iraq, after accusing Iranian Kurdish opponents of involvement in the unrest.

Western human rights groups say Iran, which is dominated by the Iranian Shiite majority, discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities. Tehran denies this.


While analysts do not expect Iran’s clergy to fall, they are on the defensive and struggling to come up with a strategy to quell anger.

Rights groups said dozens of activists, students and artists had been detained, and the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Twitter that security forces had arrested at least 28 journalists as of September. 29.

A senior Iranian cleric called for tough action against the protesters.

“Our security is our distinctive privilege. The Iranian people are demanding the heaviest punishment for these barbaric rebels,” said Mohammed Javad Hajj Ali Akbari, the leader of prayers before a big meeting in Tehran on Fridays.

Government crackdown on the demonstrations has so far killed at least 52 people and injured hundreds, Amnesty International said on Friday.

Despite the rising death toll, videos posted on social media showed demonstrators demanding that the clergy be demolished.

Heavy gunfire was heard in some videos where demonstrators chanted “Death to Khamenei” in reference to the religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Human rights group Hengaw released a video late Friday in which it says it shows protests in Saqez, his hometown of Amini. Young women were seen cheering as they took off and waved their headscarves to protest Iran’s hijab rules.

The activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has more than 150,000 followers, posted videos of protests in the southwestern oil city of Abadan, where demonstrators chanted “Priests must disappear”. Other videos allegedly show protests in Karaj in western Tehran and Isfahan in central Iran.

Reuters was unable to verify the images.


State television said “unidentified gunmen” opened fire on a police station in the southeast city of Zahedan, causing security forces to return fire. The governor told state television that 19 people were killed, including security forces. 20 people were injured.

State media reported that the intelligence chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards in Sistan and Balochistan province was killed during clashes with “terrorists” in Zahedan.

A video on social media showed several injured protesters being helped by their comrades as they tried to stop the bleeding of a man, one of whom appeared to have been shot in the neck.

Amid reports of a planned student strike, officials said Zahedan university would launch distance learning by October. 8, semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

Internet watchdog NetBlocks said on Twitter that its Live network data showed a regional internet outage in effect in Zahedan.

In Southeast Iran, which is home to the Baluch ethnic minority, demonstrators were seen setting fire to government offices in at least one city. The state news agency IRNA said the attempt to assassinate a judge in the town of Saravan failed.

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Written by Michael Georgy; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Alex Richardson and Toby Chopra

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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