Iran General NewsRioting erupts in Iranian hotbed of Kurdish nationalism

Rioting erupts in Iranian hotbed of Kurdish nationalism

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AFP: Hundreds of Iranian Kurds have clashed violently with police in the northwestern Iranian town of Mahabad, an historical centre of Kurdish nationalism, the official news agency IRNA said Wednesday. The rioting, which came just days before Iran is due to elect a new president, was sparked by news from across the border in Iraq that former rebel leader Massoud Barzani was sworn in as the first president of Iraqi Kurdistan. AFP

TEHRAN – Hundreds of Iranian Kurds have clashed violently with police in the northwestern Iranian town of Mahabad, an historical centre of Kurdish nationalism, the official news agency IRNA said Wednesday.

The rioting, which came just days before Iran is due to elect a new president, was sparked by news from across the border in Iraq that former rebel leader Massoud Barzani was sworn in as the first president of Iraqi Kurdistan.

IRNA said a number of vehicles and shopfronts were damaged “when a group of excited people” — numbering around 300 — took to the streets of the town “on the pretext of joy because Massoud Barzani got elected”.

“In response to a police request to disperse, the crowd burned tyres and inflicted damage to election campaign posters and threw stones and bricks at police,” IRNA said.

IRNA said the unrest died down shortly before midnight, but said Mahabad’s main street was littered with stones, bricks, shattered mosaics and destroyed election campaign posters.

Iran’s presidential election takes place on Friday.

Barzani’s father was nationalist hero Mullah Mustafa Barzani, who fought for Kurdish self-determination.

He is best remembered for leading an uprising and emerging as president of the short-lived Kurdish Mahabad Republic in 1946. The small republic, the first ever Kurdish state, collapsed after an Iranian army attack in 1947.

Mahabad, still a Kurdish-majority town, is situated just south of Lake Urumiyeh, near Iran’s border with Turkey, and around 55 kilometres (35 miles) from the frontier with Kurdish-run Iraq.

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