Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Feb. 26 Hard-line Islamists staged two demonstrations outside the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday, hurled stones and petrol bombs at the compound and set fire to British, American, Israeli and Danish flags, as they accused London of being behind the bombing of a revered Shiite Muslim shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra. Iran Focus
Tehran, Iran, Feb. 26 Hard-line Islamists staged two demonstrations outside the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday, hurled stones and petrol bombs at the compound and set fire to British, American, Israeli and Danish flags, as they accused London of being behind the bombing of a revered Shiite Muslim shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra.
By the blood of our martyrs, we will kill you, Blair, the radical Islamists chanted, as they trampled on an effigy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. A similar slogan was chanted against U.S. President George W. Bush.
The government-owned news agency, Fars, put the number of protesters at 2,000 and said they were all university students. Eye-witnesses said there were about 500 demonstrators in the first rally and had the appearance of belonging to Ansar-e Hezbollah, a government-organised group of radical Islamists who are used for attacks on dissident rallies.
The second demonstration was larger, but many in the crowd had been seen in the earlier protest.
Marchers chanted, Death to America, Death to Zionists, and Death to Britain, and hurled stones at the embassy compound in downtown Tehran.
The British embassy has been the target of numerous violent demonstrations, attempted seizures, and even drive-by shootings by radical Islamists in recent months.
The marchers demanded the closure of the embassy and the expulsion of the British ambassador from Iran. Several protesters who had thrown petrol bombs at the embassy were briefly held by the police, Fars news agency reported.
A mob leader shouted through a megaphone that the marchers would do everything in their power to harm Western political and economic interests in Iran.
The agents of Global Arrogance should know their security and political and economic interests will be in danger, he shouted.
In particular, the ambassador of this corrupt embassy will not be safe in our streets, he added.
Todays demonstration follows several days of escalating attacks on the British government by Irans hard-line press. Kayhan, Irans largest daily with close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been calling on the government to retake possession of Bagh-e Gholhak, a sprawling, leafy compound north of Tehran that was once the summer residence of British ambassadors to Tehran. The land was donated to the British embassy by Nasseroddin Shah, a nineteenth century monarch from the Qajar dynasty.
Earlier this month, Kayhan published a letter from Revolutionary Guards General Mir-Faisal Bagherzadeh to the countrys Chief State Prosecutor, in which the General demanded, in the name of the Revolutionary Guards Foundation for Preservation of the Values of Sacred Defence, that the Gholhak compound be taken away from the British.
In view of the fact that after the dissolution of the Qajar dynasty, the contract by which the land was donated to Britain became null and void, the foundation urges the State Prosecutor to take steps to cut the hands of the usurping British government from this land on the basis of Islamic and legal standards, the general, a member of the IRGC high command, wrote.
Irans Supreme Leader Khamenei and hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have both accused the occupiers of Iraq and the Zionists of carrying out the attack on the Shiite shrine in Samarra.
Analysts saw the escalating attacks on the British government by the Iranian theocracy as Tehrans bid to press London to distance itself from the United States on Irans nuclear program.
The Supreme Leader and his entourage see the British as the key link in the united Western position on Irans nuclear program, said Ahmad Hashemi, a university professor and political analyst. They feel that if they force London into making concessions, Western unanimity on Irans nuclear file will evaporate.
In recent weeks, Islamist students have attacked European embassies in Tehran in response to newspaper cartoons that first appeared in Denmark, depicting the Prophet Mohammad. Independent analysts in Tehran have noted that with security being as tight as it is in the Iranian capital, such attacks could not have been carried out without official connivance.