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Cops clash with protesters outside Iranian embassies in London, Paris

Police in Paris use tear gas on demonstrators trying to reach mission, while London forces skirmish with anti-Iran crowd trying to break into mission

People face riot police as they take part in a demonstration in support of Iranian protesters in Paris, on September 25, 2022. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)
People face riot police as they take part in a demonstration in support of Iranian protesters in Paris, on September 25, 2022. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)

Police in Britain and France fought back protesters rallying against the Iranian regime and its heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrations there, deploying riot control methods and arresting several people trying to reach Tehran’s embassies.

In London, police arrested five people as demonstrators threw rocks and attempted to storm the embassy compound, while in Paris, police used tear gas to prevent hundreds of people protesting from marching on Iran’s mission.

Large crowds have been gathering all week in capitals around the world in protest against the death in Iranian police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran and to show solidarity with the protests that have erupted in Iran. Amini had been arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly breaking headscarf rules and died on September 16.

At least 41 people have been killed in 10 days of demonstrations that have erupted in Iran since her death.

A protest in Paris, the second in as many days, had begun peacefully at Trocadero Square. Some demonstrators chanted, “Death to the Islamic Republic,” and slogans against supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

But police in full anti-riot armor, backed by a line of vans blocked the path of the protesters as they sought to approach the Iranian embassy a short distance away.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

“I don’t feel good, it was catastrophic,” said one protester, who asked not to be named, recovering from the effects of the tear gas.

The use of tear gas angered activists already upset by French President Emmanuel Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.

“Police used tear gas to disperse Iranian protesters in Paris in an effort to protect the Islamic Republic embassy. Meanwhile, @EmmanuelMacron shook hands with the murderous president of Iran,” tweeted the US-based Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.

Protesters also repeated the viral Persian chants used by protesters inside Iran such as “zan, zendegi, azadi!” (“woman, life, freedom!”) and also its Kurdish equivalent “jin, jiyan, azadi!” Amini, also known as Jhina Amini, was Kurdish.

“In view of what is happening, we Iranians are fully mobilized,” said Nina, a Paris-based French Iranian who asked that her last name was not given. “We must react given that we are far from our homeland, our country.

“It’s really time we all come together so we can really speak up so the whole world can really hear our voice,” she added.

In London, the Metropolitan Police said that “a substantial group” that had gathered were “intent on causing disorder” as protesters tried to break police lines and storm toward the embassy compound.

“Further police resources were brought in to support those on the ground after protesters attempted to breach police lines and had thrown missiles at officers,” London police said in a statement.

A number of police officers were injured in the skirmishes though none seriously. Five people were arrested for violent disorder.

Police stand guard outside the Iranian Embassy after a small group of protesters threw paint at the building in London, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP/Alastair Grant)

The London street protest comes at a time of growing hostility between Britain and Iran over the death in custody of Amini. The Iranian police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website said it summoned Simon Shercliff, the UK‘s ambassador to Iran, on Saturday and protested the hosting of critical Farsi-language media outlets. The ministry alleges the news outlets have provoked disturbances and the spread of riots in Iran at the top of their programs. Protests over Amini’s death have spread across at least 46 cities, towns and villages in Iran.

Iran said it considers the news agencies’ reporting to be interference in Iran’s internal affairs and acts against its sovereignty.

The beefed-up police operation in the vicinity of the Iranian Embassy in London’s Princes Gate will remain in place.

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