Iran urges France to listen to protesters, avoid violence

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Iran on Friday urged France to listen to protesters and avoid violence after more than 450 people were arrested and nearly as many police were injured in demonstrations against pension reforms.

Protesters clashed with French security forces on Thursday in the most serious violence yet of a three-month revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to increase the retirement age.

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“The French government must talk to its people and listen to their voices,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani tweeted.

“We do not support destruction or rioting, but we maintain that instead of creating chaos in other countries, listen to the voice of your people and avoid violence against them,” he added.

Kanani was referring to criticism, including from France, of Iran’s response to months-long protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini after the 22-year-old’s arrest for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

Hundreds of people have been killed, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands arrested in connection with what Iranian officials described as “riots” fomented by Israel and the West.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran for its response to the protest movement, led mostly by women.

“Those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind,” Kanani said, adding that such “violence contradicts sitting on the chair of morality lessons and preaching to others.”

On Friday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 457 people had been arrested and 441 members of the security forces injured the day before during the protests.

Darmanin dismissed calls from protesters to withdraw the pensions reform.

“I don’t think we should withdraw this law because of violence,” he said. “If so, that means there’s no state. We should accept a democratic, social debate, but not a violent debate.”

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