Iran arrests over 260 people, including 3 Europeans, in raid on ‘satanist network’

Cops in Islamic Republic accuse male and female suspects of ‘spreading the culture of satanism and nudity,’ say officers also seized alcohol and psychedelic drugs

Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian police announced Friday they arrested more than 260 people on Thursday night, including three foreigners over promoting “satanism” west of the capital of Tehran, state media reported.

“The Police Information Center announced the identification, dismantling, and widespread arrest of members of the satanist network,” IRNA state news agency reported, citing a police statement.

The report also said the suspects were arrested on Thursday night in Shahryar County “spreading the culture of satanism and nudity.”

Police arrested “146 men and 115 women” who “were in an undesirable and obscene condition with emblems, signs, and symbols of satanism on their clothes, head, face, and hair,” the statement continued.

“Three European citizens” – whose nationalities were not given — were also arrested during the police operation in Shahryar city, west of Tehran on Thursday night.

“Symbols of satanism, alcoholic beverages and psychoactive substances along with 73 vehicles were seized” during the raid, police added in the statement.

The news agency also published photographs alongside its report showing masks, what appeared to be model skulls and T-shirts with skulls on.

It was not clear how such a large number of arrests were made in one night — if the suspects were in one location, at some gathering or party, or not.

Gatherings where unrelated men and women are seen together are illegal in Iran and considered a sin under Islamic law.

Raids on so-called satanist gatherings are not uncommon in the deeply conservative country, often targeting parties or concerts with alcohol consumption, which is largely banned in Iran.

In July 2009, police arrested three people in the northwestern province of Ardebil over “Satan worship.”

In May of the same year, media in the Islamic Republic said 104 “Satan-worshipers” were arrested in a raid on a concert in the southern city of Shiraz where people were purportedly drinking alcohol and “sucking blood.”

In 2007, police arrested 230 people in a raid on an illegal rock concert in a garden near Tehran.

Authorities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated country have in the past branded rock and heavy metal music concerts as satanist gatherings.

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