Iran summons Western envoys
The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the British and Norwegian ambassadors on Saturday, amid anti-government protests broadly supported by the West.
The British envoy, Simon Shercliff, was asked to explain the “hostile” tone of UK-based Persian media, while Norway’s Sigvald Hauge was questioned over the “interventionist stance” of Norway’s Iranian-born parliament speaker, Masud Gharahkhani, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.
Shercliff was summoned over Britain’s hosting of Iran International, Manoto TV, and BBC Persian, Iran International reported. Based in London and funded by Saudi Arabia, Iran International’s pro-opposition line has drawn Tehran’s ire before, and the network has been accused of bias by its own reporters.
The ministry views these British-hosted outlets as interfering in its internal affairs.
Hauge was asked to explain the “interventionist” remarks of Gharahkhani, who posted a video to Twitter this week backing the ongoing protests in Iran. "If my parents had not made the choice to flee in 1987, I would have been one of those fighting for my life on the streets,” he declared in the video.
Violent demonstrations have taken place in cities and towns across Iran for over a week, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. She was reportedly detained for wearing an “improper” hijab. While casualty figures from the protests vary wildly, Iran’s state media said on Saturday that 41 police and demonstrators have been killed since September 17.
The protests have received considerable attention from Western politicians and media outlets, with the US on Friday lifting some restrictions on providing internet services to Iran in a bid to help demonstrators organize and share footage from the protests.
Iranian officials have alleged that forces from “outside the country” are working to stir up unrest over Amini’s death. At least one foreign NGO, the San Francisco-based United for Iran, has admitted this, with its director telling The Guardian that his team has been organizing protesters for several months.
In the US, the CIA-backed National Endowment for Democracy has been financing the opposition in Iran for several years, and is currently promoting one of its grant recipients as a source of authoritative coverage on the protests.