Iran summons UK ambassador amid anti-government protests

Sejal Karia reports on another day of unrest in Iran, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it summoned Britain’s ambassador, after what it described as a hostile atmosphere created by London-based Farsi language media outlets.

The move comes amid violent unrest in Iran triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported the ministry also summoned Norway’s ambassador to Iran and strongly protested recent remarks by the president of the Norwegian parliament, Masud Gharahkhani.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody after being detained by Iranian morality police launched unrest across Iran’s provinces and the capital of Tehran.

Protests over Ms Amini’s death have spread across at least 46 cities, towns and villages in Iran. State TV has suggested that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the protests began September 17. An Associated Press news agency count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 13 dead, with more than 1,200 demonstrators arrested.

Running clashes between demonstrators and security forces have continued to erupt. A member of the Basij, a volunteer force with Iran’s Guards, was killed by protesters last night in Tehran, semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday. Another Basij member, who was in a coma since Thursday after street clashes, died in Urmia, West Azerbaijan province on Sunday, IRNA reported.

The scene outside the Iranian Embassy in central London, after protesters clashed with police. Credit: PA

The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website said it summoned Simon Shercliff, the UK's ambassador to Iran, on Saturday and protested the hosting of critical Farsi-language media outlets. The ministry alleges the news outlets have provoked disturbances and the spread of riots in Iran at the top of their programmes.

Iran said it considers the news agencies’ reporting to be interference in Iran’s internal affairs and acts against its sovereignty.

In London, protesters clashed with police outside the Iranian embassy.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered at the embassy in Princes Gate, Knightsbridge, on Sunday afternoon.

Angry protesters could be seen shouting and pushing against officers who had formed a line in front of the embassy. Crowds chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” and waved Iran’s former national flag from before 1979. Footage shared online also showed violent altercations breaking out among those in the crowd.

The crisis in Iran began as a public outpouring of anger over the the death of Ms Amini, who was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing her Islamic headscarf too loosely. The police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.

Ms Amini’s death has sparked sharp condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations.

Pro-government rallies were also held on Sunday in several cities across Iran. Thousands attended a rally in the capital’s Enghelab, or Revolution Square, waving Iranian flags. Some officials, including cabinet spokesman, Ali Bahadori Jahromi, attended to the rally in Tehran.