Iranians protest over UK police ‘savagery’ in riots


Some 200 students held a demonstration outside the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday to protest at what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the “savage” police treatment of people involved in street unrest in London last week.

Watched by around 50 riot police, some students threw eggs towards the embassy compound and at the end of the protest they held up masks of Mark Duggan, the man whose shooting by police sparked the protests and riots in Britain.

Some protesters carried anti-British placards. One read: “London 2011, Tehran 1979, throw off your shah!” a reference to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution which overthrew a Western-backed king.

For many years Iran has been on the receiving end of criticism from Western countries over its human rights record, especially the crushing of demonstrations after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Iranian politicians have called on the United Nations to condemn Britain. The leader of the Basij militia, which battled anti-Ahmadinejad protesters in 2009, offered to send his forces to London, Liverpool and Birmingham “to act as a peacekeeping force and a buffer between repressive forces of the royal regime and the British people.”

Hojat Alamdari, a 26-year-old engineering student at the protest, told Reuters TV: “People around the world don’t link the issues of Great Britain to looting by rioters. The problem is that the people of that country have demands and certain rights, and are calling on their government to rectify their political and economic issues.”

Britain’s top diplomat in Tehran has told the government she would be happy to discuss events in Britain and encouraged Iran to allow a UN human rights rapporteur for Iran to be allowed into the country to look into its crackdown on the opposition and frequent use of the death penalty.

Other countries long used to Western criticism of their human rights records are relishing Britain’s embarrassment over the unrest on its streets.

Libyan state television said Prime Minister David Cameron was using Irish and Scottish “mercenaries” to tame the riots in English cities.