The Guardian: The British embassy in Tehran is expected to lodge a diplomatic protest after Iranian guests were attacked by demonstrators and detained by police following a reception to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. The Guardian
Robert Tait in Tehran
The British embassy in Tehran is expected to lodge a diplomatic protest after Iranian guests were attacked by demonstrators and detained by police following a reception to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.
Geoffrey Adams, Britain’s ambassador to Iran, was understood to be consulting the Foreign Office yesterday over a formal response to a violent protest apparently designed to deter Iranians from attending Thursday’s reception, an annual event in the British diplomatic calendar.
Dozens of guests turned back after being confronted by angry demonstrators chanting insults, including “shame on you dirty Iranians willing to eat the birthday cake of the queen of lies”. Water cans, tomatoes and paintballs were lobbed into the embassy compound during protests, which began an hour before the reception and continued throughout the event.
Riot police attempted to beat back the protesters and arrested several. However, the clashes merely pushed the demonstration to a nearby side street, where many guests were confronted while making their way to the reception. “I was verbally abused as I parked my car. It was really frightening,” one Iranian guest said.
Disturbances continued as guests left, with several reportedly detained by police for questioning. Amid scenes of mounting concern, embassy staff provided mini-buses to enable those remaining to leave the compound free from harassment.
British diplomats voiced fury over the incident. “At the very least there will be a protest from the embassy to the Iranian foreign ministry, with possibly another from the Foreign Office to Iran’s embassy in London,” said one.
While demonstrations outside Britain’s Tehran embassy are commonplace, this is the first time the Queen’s birthday reception has been targeted.
The protests occurred amid an official campaign to intimidate Iranians into severing ties with foreigners, particularly westerners. The invited 1,500 guests included Iranians prominent in the arts, academia and civil society as well as many foreign diplomats and journalists.
This year’s reception was preceded by reports in conservative newspapers and on websites accusing Britain of using the Queen’s birthday as a pretext to invite members of Iran’s “elites” in a joint American-British project to destabilise the country’s Islamic government.