Iran blames foreign enemies for wave of schoolgirl poisonings, West calls for probe


Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran.
AP Photo/Vahid SalemiIranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran.

‘Girls must be able to go to school without fear. This is nothing less than their human right. All cases must be fully investigated’

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday blamed a wave of poisonings of hundreds of schoolgirls around the country on Tehran’s “enemies,” while Germany called on the Islamic Republic to fully investigate the mysterious incidents. 

The so-far unexplained “mild poison” attacks on hundreds of Iranian girls at over 30 schools in at least four cities started in November 2022 in Iran’s Shiite Muslim holy city of Qom. Some parents have taken their children out of school while some politicians suggest the attacks could have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls’ education.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the reports of the attacks shocking and said they must be fully investigated, joining the United States in expressing her concern. 

“Girls must be able to go to school without fear,” Baerbock said on Twitter. “This is nothing less than their human right. All cases must be fully investigated.”

Speaking to a crowd in southern Iran on Friday, Raisi blamed the poisonings on his enemies.

“This is a security project to cause chaos in the country whereby the enemy seeks to instill fear and insecurity among parents and students,” he said.

He did not note who those enemies were, although Iranian leaders habitually accuse the United States and Israel, among others, of acting against it.

Separately, a senior Iranian official said a fuel tanker found next to a school in Tehran and which had also been spotted in two other cities was probably involved in the poisonings. Authorities seized the tanker and arrested its driver, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The United Nations human rights office also called for a transparent probe into the attacks.

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