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IRAN

Iranian women stone French embassy

A small group of protesters, most of them women, on Tuesday destroyed a Iranian police post protecting the French embassy in Tehran and threw stones at visitors to the mission before being arrested, a diplomat inside told AFP.

The unannounced, violent demonstration lasted 90 minutes and involved around 15 people, the French diplomat said.

"There was no damage to the embassy itself," though the visitors — all of them Iranians applying for French visas — had to take refuge inside, he said.

The police post — a one-man shelter for a uniformed member of Iran's diplomatic police — had its windows destroyed by stones but remained standing. There was no report of any officer being injured.The diplomat said the protest happened suddenly, with none of the advance notice given in previous demonstrations. As a result there was no added police presence.

He said the protesters yelled "God is greatest," but he could not discern any other slogan.

He stressed that "it is up to the Iranian authorities to ensure our security."

Just before the French embassy attack, a bigger demonstration was held at the nearby Tehran University in which the crowd shouted "Death to America," "Death to Israel" and "Those who insult the prophet should be executed," according to the Fars news agency.

Demonstrations have taken place in several Muslim countries in the past two weeks over a film made in the United States and cartoons in a French magazine, both of which made fun of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Embassy security in Tehran is a sensitive issue.    

Britain late last year closed its embassy after it was stormed by protesters during a state-sanctioned demonstration. Canada last month also closed its mission in Tehran, citing concerns for the safety of its diplomats.

In 1979, following Iran's Islamic revolution, students broke into the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans inside hostage for more than a year, leading to a rupture in US-Iran diplomatic ties.

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PROTEST

French Interior Minister asks police to ban pro-Palestinian Paris protest

France's interior minister on Thursday asked police to ban a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris this weekend over the conflict with Israel fearing a repeat of clashes during a similar situation in 2014.

French Interior Minister asks police to ban pro-Palestinian Paris protest
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East. Photo: Guillaume HORCAJUELO POOL / AFP

Activists had called the protest in the Barbès district of northern Paris to demonstrate against Israel’s use of force in the Gaza Strip in response to the rocket fire by militant group Hamas at the Jewish state.

“I have asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote on Twitter.

“Serious disturbances to public order were seen in 2014,” he added, urging police chiefs elsewhere in France to also remain vigilant over demonstrations.

In a circular seen by AFP, he also urged local police chiefs to assure the “protection of places of worship, schools, cultural centres and businesses of the Jewish community.”

Several demonstrations took place in France during July 2014 to denounce an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

On July 19, 2014, several thousand protesters defied a ban on a demonstration at Barbes and the rally rapidly degenerated into violent clashes that lasted for hours.

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