- More than 1,000 schoolgirls have been poisoned in Iran
- The Supreme Leader says the perpetrators deserve the death penalty
- Poisoning is fueling passions after months of protests
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader said on Monday that poisoning schoolgirls is an “unforgivable” crime that should be punished with the death penalty if premeditated, state television reported, amid public outrage over a wave of suspected attacks in schools.
More than 1,000 girls have suffered from poisoning since November, according to state media and officials, with some politicians blaming religious groups opposed to girls’ education.
The poisonings came at a critical time for Iran’s clerical rulers, after months of protests since the death of a young woman in police custody for violating veiling rules.
State television quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying, “The authorities should seriously pursue the issue of poisoning the students.” “If it is proved that it was premeditated, the perpetrators of this unforgivable crime shall be sentenced to the death penalty.”
The poisoning incidents began in November in the Shiite holy city of Qom and spread to 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, prompting some parents to remove their children from schools and protest.
View 2 more stories
The authorities accused the “enemies” of the Islamic Republic of using the attacks to undermine the religious establishment. But the hard-line groups that serve as guardians of their interpretation of Islam have been skeptical.
‘The girls pay the price’
In 2014, people took to the streets of the city of Isfahan after a wave of acid attacks, which appeared to be intended to terrorize women who flouted strict Islamic dress codes.
For the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, school girls are joining the protests that escalated after the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.
Some activists have been accused of setting up poisonings in retaliation.
“The girls of Iran are now paying the price for their fight against compulsory veiling, and they may be poisoned by the religious establishment,” Masih Alinejad, a prominent Iranian activist, wrote on Twitter.
Fearing a new outburst of protests, the authorities downplayed the poisoning incidents. A judicial investigation is underway, although no details of the results have been given yet.
State media reported that at least one boys’ school was targeted in the town of Brojer.
Additional reporting by Eloli Eloli, Writing by Parisa Hafezi. Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”
The study found that China spent $240 billion bailing out heavily indebted countries
Harris wiped her tears while touring a slave castle on Cape Coast, Ghana: NPR
Russian soldiers say blocking units placed behind them to stop the retreat