Thousands march in Strasbourg in support of Iran's activists

Messages of support were beamed on to the Eiffel Tower to show solidarity with the anti-government protesters

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About 12,000 people marched to the EU Parliament in the eastern French city of Strasbourg in support of Iran’s anti-government protesters while the Eiffel Tower lit the night with the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”, which embodies the protest movement spilling beyond Iran.

Highlighting the demands of protesters, the Eiffel Tower display also displayed the message, “Stop executions in Iran”.

The messages paid tribute to Mahsa Amini, whose death in September triggered demonstrations in Iran, along with arrests and executions.

Paris posthumously declared Ms Amini an honorary citizen in October, and Paris City Hall has said that the Eiffel Tower displays were a homage to her and to “those who are bravely fighting for their freedom as the [Iranian] regime is continuing executions of protesters”.

The Strasbourg march, which was held on Monday, was organised by Iranians in Europe on the 44th anniversary of the day when Iran’s last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, ailing and under growing pressure, left the country for good.

The following month, the monarchy collapsed under the fervour of the Islamic revolution that gave Iran its theocracy. Some of the demonstrators on Monday carried photos of the shah.

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Local media cited police as saying some 12,000 people took part.

“Your silence is violence,” one banner read, reflecting the demand of Iranian protesters abroad to support their message and ensure Tehran hears it.

Protesters want the EU to take a firmer stance against Tehran, declaring the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organisation.

The European parliament’s plenary session is to debate the EU’s response this week to the protests and executions in Iran.

A non-binding resolution is to be voted on Thursday, which protesters and others see as a chance to put the Revolutionary Guard on the EU’s terrorist list.

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A letter last week, by more than 100 Members of the European Parliament, to Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, called on the bloc to designate the IRGC “in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.”

The IRGC was designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in 2019.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Monday — after a meeting with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in The Hague — that they both had summoned Iran’s ambassadors in their respective countries to protest executions of protesters and British-Iranian former defence ministry official Ali Reza Akbari.

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Mr Hoekstra said the ministers support moves “to go further with EU sanctions against those responsible, all those responsible for these grave human rights violations in Iran”.

Iran has been rocked by protests since the September 16 death of Ms Amini, 22, in the custody of Iran's morality police.

The protests have since become one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s leaders.

Updated: January 17, 2023, 4:13 AM
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