Concerned parents held protests in Iran’s capital Tehran and other cities on Saturday over a wave of suspected poison attacks affecting schoolgirls at dozens of schools, according to Iranian news agencies and social media videos.
As yet unknown diseases have affected hundreds of schoolgirls in recent months. Iranian officials believe the girls may have been poisoned and have blamed enemies of Tehran.
The country’s health minister has said the girls have suffered attacks of “mild poisoning” and some politicians have suggested the girls may be targeted by radical Islamic groups opposed to girls’ education.
More than 30 schools in at least 10 of Iran’s 31 provinces were affected by the disease on Saturday. Videos posted on social media showed parents gathered at schools to take their children home and some students being taken to hospital in ambulances or buses.
A protest against the disease turned into an anti-government demonstration of parents outside an education ministry building in western Tehran on Saturday, according to a video verified by Reuters.
Protesters compared the Revolutionary Guards and other security forces to the Islamic State group, chanting, “Basij, Guards, you are our Daesh.”
According to unverified video, similar protests were held in two other areas in Tehran and other cities including Isfahan and Rasht.
The outbreak of the schoolgirl’s illness comes at a critical time for Iran’s clerical rulers, who have faced anti-government protests following the death of a young Iranian woman in the custody of morality police enforcing a strict dress code.
Social media posts in recent days have featured pictures and videos of girls who have fallen ill, felt nauseous or suffered from heart palpitations. Others complained of headaches. Reuters could not verify the posts.
The UN human rights office in Geneva called on Friday for a transparent investigation into the suspected attacks and countries including Germany and the United States expressed concern.
Iran dismissed it as foreign interference and a “hasty reaction” and said on Friday it was investigating the cause of the incidents.
Foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told state media, “Advancing this issue as quickly as possible and providing documentary information to address the concerns of the families and hold the perpetrators and causes accountable is one of the immediate priorities of the government of Iran.” Is.”
Schoolgirls were active in the anti-government protests that began in September. They have removed their mandatory headscarves in classrooms, torn up pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and called for his death.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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