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25 Mar, 2023 14:01

Iran taunts France over unrest

The Islamic Republic condemned Paris’ “crackdown on peaceful protests”
Iran taunts France over unrest

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned France’s harsh response to pension reform protests, calling on Paris to “talk to its people and listen to their voices.” With violence in their own streets, French officials should avoid “preaching to others,” Tehran said.

“We strongly condemn the crackdown on peaceful protests by the French people,” the ministry tweeted on Friday. “We call on the French government to respect human rights and avoid using force against its people who are pursuing their demands in a peaceful manner.”

France has been rocked by protests since President Emmanuel Macron’s government bypassed parliament last week to pass a controversial pension reform bill that raises the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64. More than a million demonstrators took to the streets across the country on Thursday, and hundreds were arrested in Paris for lighting fires and clashing with riot police.

The Council of Europe condemned the government for using “excessive force” to police the protests, while France’s national Consultative Commission on Human Rights claimed that hundreds of demonstrators were arbitrarily arrested and subjected to extreme “kettling” tactics by police. 

Iran was heavily criticized by Western nations – including France – for its handling of anti-government protests late last year. The French Foreign Ministry used near-identical language in October when it declared that “Iran must respect the right to peaceful protest as well as human rights, in particular the rights of women and girls,” and demanded “that this repression end immediately.”

“The French government should talk to its people and listen to their voices,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani tweeted on Friday. Kanaani shared a video of French police clubbing demonstrators in Paris, adding that “this kind of violence” contradicts France’s “sitting on the chair of morality lessons and preaching to others.”

“French protesters are also waiting to see the collective [video clip] of European, Australian and Canadian female ministers in support of French protesting women,” Kanaani continued, referring to a virtual gathering of female ministers organized by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly in October in which they pledged support to “the incredibly brave women of Iran.”

Iranian authorities arrested an unknown number of people during last year’s protests, although Ayatollah Ali Khamenei granted pardons to more than 22,000 earlier this month. The protests, which broke out following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, were fomented by the US and Israel, the Iranian government claimed.