Teheran students riot at Jordan embassy

Hard-liners clash with police at Gaza protest until Khamenei rep calls for end of demonstration.

iran gaza protest 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
iran gaza protest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
A group of students in Teheran clashed with police next to the Jordanian embassy on Thursday, according to a Reuters report. The right-wing group had reportedly said it would capture the building in a protest against Operation Cast Lead, the IDF offensive in Gaza. The protesters were calling for the operation to cease, and some threw shoes at police. According to Reuters, the demonstration dispersed when Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sent a representative, who told the crown not to storm embassies or to scuffle with police. The protesters called the Jordanians "traitors," and shouted "shame, shame." Protesters have held daily rallies outside the Egyptian interests section in Teheran since the IDF operation began on Saturday, as well as the Saudi embassy, protesting what they call inaction by Arab nations. On Thursday, hard-line students threatened to storm the Egyptian mission unless Egypt open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, a step Cairo has refused. Also, Iranian students broke into a UK diplomatic compound on Tuesday. Earlier in the week, Iranian student groups asked the government to authorize volunteers to go carry out suicide bombings in Israel in response to the Gaza strikes. However, there has not been any sign of Iranians carrying out suicide attacks in Israel - raising the likelihood the groups' activities are mainly for propaganda purposes. In an open letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the students said "volunteer student suicide groups ... are determined to go to Gaza. You are expected to issue orders to the relevant authorities in order to pave the way for such action." The hard-liners started signing up volunteers after Khamenei issued a religious decree Sunday saying anyone killed while defending Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr. The groups claim that more than 10,000 people throughout Iran have registered as volunteer suicide bombers in the past three days. At a gathering Tuesday in Tehran, students distributed registration forms to volunteers. The volunteers wore white shrouds symbolizing their willingness to die and headbands with the slogan "Defenders of Gaza" and "Ready for Martyrdom." Most of those registering were members of the Basij militia, a hard-line paramilitary group that has tens of thousands of members and is often involved in drumming up popular fervor against Israel and the West.