Panel marking Khomeini's French exile home is damaged

Late founder of the Islamic republic spent several months in village of Neauphle-le-Chateau

Tehran's Azadi tower is illuminated with pictures of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the 33rd anniversary of his death in June 2022. EPA
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A display panel on private land commemorating a stay by Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in France has been badly damaged, police said Wednesday.

Khomeini stayed for several months in exile in the village of Neauphle-le-Chateau, west of Paris, before returning in triumph to Iran to found the Islamic republic.

The display panel has a picture of the ayatollah and some words in French and Farsi about his stay.

Controversy about the panel has grown as nationwide protests shake Iran.

The panel was damaged over Tuesday night, a source in the gendarmerie of the Yvelines region told AFP.

"The glass was broken and the panel with the image of Ayatollah Khomeini was taken out of its wooden frame and was lying on the ground," the source said.

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The panel is erected on private land and is clearly visible from the street.

Khomeini stayed in Neauphle-le-Chateau from October 1978 until January 1979, when he returned to Iran after the shah's departure into exile.

He died in 1989. His successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, still rules the country.

After pressure from several charities, the town hall announced in mid-January that the panel would be hidden from public view "probably by a large billboard installed on the sidewalk".

This has not yet happened.

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The International Women's Law League, representing a collective of 40 NGOs, and the association Femme Azadi had "in the light of the tragic events currently unfolding" in Iran demanded the mayor grant "the authorisation without delay to conceal the panel".

Iranian authorities have cracked down on more than four months of anti-regime protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for wearing her hijab "inappropriately".

At least 481 people have been killed in the authorities' crackdown on the protest movement, according to Norway-based Iran Human Rights.

Banners and billboards of Khomeini have been defaced and damaged in Iran during the protests, according to images posted on social media.

Updated: January 26, 2023, 12:33 AM