Iran to probe 'revenge' poisoning of schoolgirls over hijab protests

International |  IANS  | Published :

Tehran, Feb 28 (IANS) Iranian authorities have confirmed they are investigating reports that several schoolgirls were poisoned as "revenge" for the role the young women played in the recent protests against the mandatory hijab, the media reported.

Iran's deputy education minister, Younes Panahi, told reporters on Monday that "after the poisoning of several students in (the city of) Qom, it was found that some people wanted all schools, especially girls' schools, to be closed", The Guardian reported.

Dr Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, a member of Parliament's health commission, also confirmed the poisoning of schoolgirls "in cities such as Qom and Borujerd has been done intentionally".

A doctor who specialises in the treatment of poisoning victims said they believed the motive was to "scare the protesters by using extremist groups (radical Islamists) inside and outside the country".

"They want to take revenge on schoolgirls who are the pioneers of the recent protest," the doctor said.

"Never before have I treated someone who was poisoned with organophosphate agents. The only cases I treated were workers who were exposed to these agents in agricultural pesticides."

The attacks have led to girls staying away from school.

A teacher from Qom, which is about 85 miles south of the capital Tehran,told Radio Farda that out of 250 students, only 50 attended classes, reports the Guardian.

Last week, angry parents protested outside the governor's office in Qom and several schools have been closed due to the pending investigation.

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian human rights activist based in New York, told the Guardian: "In my opinion, this chemical attack is revenge by the Islamic Republic against the brave women who (rejected) the mandatory hijab and shook the 'Berlin Wall' of (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei.

"I call this biological terrorism, and it should be investigated by the UN. We need an outside organisation to investigate as soon as possible."

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