A wave of alleged poisonings of schoolgirls sparked protests in Iran

Concerned parents protested in the Iranian capital Tehran and other cities on Saturday over a wave of alleged poisonings that have affected schoolgirls in dozens of schools, according to Iranian news agencies and social media videos.

In recent months, hitherto unexplained illnesses have affected hundreds of schoolgirls. Iranian officials believe the girls may have been poisoned and blame it on Tehran’s enemies.

The country’s health minister said the girls had been attacked with a “weak poison” and some politicians suggested the girls might have been targeted by radical Islamist groups opposed to girls’ education.

Iran’s interior minister said on Saturday that investigators have found “suspicious samples” that are being studied.

“Suspicious specimens have been found during the field studies and are being examined … to identify the causes of the illness of students, and the results will be published shortly,” Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said. This is reported by the official news agency IRNA.

On Saturday, the disease affected more than 30 schools in at least 10 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Videos posted on social media show parents gathering at schools to take their children home, with some students being taken to hospitals by ambulances or buses.

A woman from the city of Qom previously told CNN that both of her daughters, who studied at different schools, were poisoned. One girl developed serious health problems after being poisoned: nausea, shortness of breath and numbness of her left leg and right arm, as well as difficulty walking.

A gathering of parents outside the Ministry of Education in western Tehran on Saturday to protest disease has turned into an anti-government demonstration, according to a video verified by Reuters.

“Basij guards, you are our Daesh,” protesters chanted, comparing the Revolutionary Guards and other security forces to the Islamic State group.

According to unverified videos, similar protests took place in two other districts of Tehran and other cities, including Isfahan and Rasht.

The schoolgirl outbreak comes at a critical time for Iran’s clerical rulers, who are facing months of anti-government protests caused by the death of a young Iranian woman who was detained by the vice police, who enforce a strict dress code.

Posts on social media in recent days have shown pictures and videos of girls who are sick, nauseous or have heart palpitations. Others complained of headaches. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

The medical team of the Isfahan Technological University carries an injured student on a stretcher.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva called for a transparent investigation into the alleged attacks, and countries including Germany and the US expressed concern.

Experts spoke of the difficulties of investigating the situation in Iran and told CNN that the incidents were “surprisingly similar” to dozens of incidents in schools in Afghanistan since 2009. diseases remain unexplained,” said London-based defense specialist Dan Caszeta of the Royal United Services Institute.

Iran rejected what it sees as foreign interference and a “hasty reaction” and said on Friday it was investigating the causes of the incidents.

“One of the urgent priorities of the Iranian government is to address this issue as quickly as possible and provide documented information to resolve the problems of families and bring the perpetrators and the perpetrators to justice,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.

The students actively participated in anti-government protests which started in September. they removed their obligatory headscarves photographs of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were torn in the classrooms and called for his death.