France: March, Eiffel Tower display back Iran’s activists

Jan 15, 2023, 3:16 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2023, 11:32 am
An activist holds a picture of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi during a gathering in support to Iran's a...

An activist holds a picture of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi during a gathering in support to Iran's anti-government protesters, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. The Strasbourg march comes after over 100 MEPs signed last week a letter calling on the EU to take a firmer stance on Iran. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

PARIS (AP) — Up to 12,000 people marched Monday 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.

The Eiffel Tower display also beamed the message, “Stop executions in Iran,” highlighting a demand of protesters.

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

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

The Strasbourg march was organized 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 forever. The following month, the monarchy collapsed under the fervor of the Islamic revolution that gave Iran its theocracy. Some of the demonstrators Monday carried photos of the former king.

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 European Union to take a firmer stance against Iran, declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.

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

A letter last week by over 100 MEPs to Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, called on the bloc to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” The IRGC was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. 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 defense ministry official Ali Reza Akbari.

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 Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Amini, who died after being detained by the morality police. The protests have since become one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s leaders.

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France: March, Eiffel Tower display back Iran’s activists