Home iran Islamic Republic’s Loyalists Attack Iranian Protesters in London

Islamic Republic’s Loyalists Attack Iranian Protesters in London

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The Islamic Republic’s loyalists on Friday violently attacked a group of Iranian dissidents who were celebrating Ebrahim Raisi’s death in London, injuring at least four people.

Images of an Iranian woman beaten to the ground by a man seemingly loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran is going viral on social media, and the alleged incident didn’t take place in Iran.

It happened in the Western world: London, UK.

A memorial ceremony to honor late Iranian president Raisi and his entourage who died in a helicopter crash near the Azerbaijan border took place at Dewan Al-Kafeel Community Center in Wembley, London, on Friday.

The opponents of Iran’s authoritarian government were standing outside to protest when they were attacked by the loyalists. Confrontations ensued and then screams are heard from a woman yelling for ‘help’ in Persian as several men dressed in black beat up protestors who were waving Iran’s pre-Islamic Revolutionary flag, the Lion and the Sun.

The injured woman goes on to yell the name ‘Nika Shakarami’ referring to the 16-year-old Iranian girl, who according to a BBC World report, was violently sexually assaulted and killed by the Islamic Republic’s security forces amid the 2022 uprising sparked by the death of Mahsa Jina Amini.

The Met Police in London responded to Iran International in an email, saying “four people were injured and were treated by paramedics. Their injuries are not believed to be either life threatening or life changing.”

The Met police said one person has been arrested but did not identify if he was an Islamic Republic loyalist or not.

“One man was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. Further enquiries will now follow to establish what further offences took place and to identify those involved.”

Their investigation will include “an examination of footage shared on social media,” the Met police spokesperson said in the email.

Iran expert: Friday’s attack in UK is “a wake-up call” to the West

Gabriel Noronha, who worked on Iran at the US State Department, said the West has a serious problem.

“It’s really grotesque, I think, and it’s a wake-up call for those governments that they need to be more serious about eroding freedoms in their own country and the unchecked power of governments like those around you,” said Noronha to Iran International.

Noronha said the infiltration of those loyal to the authoritarian government in Iran is a real threat to the West.

“If you don’t push back on foreign repression activities, they’re only going to get more emboldened and more violent here on our soil,” he added.

The violence that played out in the streets of London Friday represents a much wider issue of Iran building networks of influence in the Western world according to Noronha.

“Islamic Republic has spent an inordinate amount of financial resources, and pressure and planning to build networks in foreign countries, to advance its interests. The things we are seeing are just the public facing ones. Underneath them are networks of proliferation for the regime’s ballistic missile, drone and nuclear programs. It’s money laundering, for the regime’s terrorism. And ultimately, at the worst, it’s, actual assassin operatives who are there to be able to kill the regime’s critics, or at least bully, intimidate them, to be able to get their critics silenced, both literally and figuratively,” he said.

Counter terrorism police in the UK revealed in Feb. 2023 that they foiled 15 plots by Iran to either kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals it considers “enemies of the regime.”

2023 Sydney Peace Prize laureate, human rights advocate and actress Nazanin Boniadi told Iran International, “I am horrified by the recent, brutal attack by Islamic Republic supporters on its opponents in the UK. The Metropolitan police must immediately investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Boniadi who is a British citizen said she and her parents faced a hostile environment outside the Iranian embassy in London in the 1980s when she would attend protests against the regime outside the compound.

“These often included verbal insults and threats such as ‘you’ll pay for betraying the Islamic Revolution’ and ‘we know where you live’ — implying that the regime will find and harm its opponents,” said Boniadi.

She said there is a “four-decade history of transnational repression by the Islamic Republic in the UK.”

Boniadi described a deadly incident involving her family friend decades ago where she had felt the long reach of the Iranian regime in her new home, the UK.

“I was seven when a video shop we frequented in Kensington — owned by a prominent dissident and friend of my parents, Reza Fazeli — was bombed. His 22-year-old son Bijan, who worked at the shop, was killed in the blast. It was the first time I truly felt the regime’s long arm of repression. Less than a year later, dissident Mohammad Ali Tavakoli and his son were shot to death in their home in Wembley,” said Boniadi who also brought up the example of the stabbing of Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati.

The Washington-based NGO, Freedom House, urged British authorities to investigate Zeraati’s attack as a possible act of transnational repression.

In 2023, UK’s ITV revealed that the IRGC was plotting to assassinate two Iran International television anchors in London in 2022. The targets were former anchor Sima Sabet and host Fardad Farahzad.

In January, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the United Kingdom took joint action against a network of individuals that targeted Iranian dissidents for assassination, they said, at the direction of the Iranian regime. The statement said the network is led by Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Ebrahim Sharifi-Zindshti, operating at the behest of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

Boniadi said “45 years of providing a haven for the regime in the UK has increased the risk to its freedom-seeking opponents — often also British citizens. Instead, it is in the UK’s national and foreign policy interests to stand unequivocally on the side of pro-democracy Iranians who are risking everything for freedom, provide them with a safe haven and empower Iranian civil society towards self-determination, while disempowering a regime that is the number-one global sponsor of terrorism.”

She said to achieve that goal, the UK needs to adopt the Universal Jurisdiction (Extension) Bill and enlist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.

UK-born Jonathan Harounoff, an Israel and Iran journalist and analyst said seeing images of Friday’s attack on anti-regime protestors on British soil is disturbing.

“Footage of brave Iranian women inside Iran being harassed, beaten, arrested by regime forces often elicits strong condemnations from Western observers. Seeing instances of the same thing happening in London is deeply concerning,” Harounoff told Iran International.

Harounoff said those protestors left Iran to escape the regime, and yet those loyal to the very system activists left behind, have found their way, destroying any kind of safety they once felt.

“Safety, freedom of assembly and speech are among the reasons why some Iranians in the diaspora settled in London. British police authorities must ensure these attacks don’t happen — it cannot become a regular occurrence,” he said.

Iran’s long reach goes beyond its borders

It’s not just a problem in the UK, it applies to the rest of Europe, Canada and the United States, said Gabriel Noronha.

A recent Global news investigation found that upwards of 700 Iran regime-linked affiliates are operating on Canadian soil and threatening the lives of Iranian-Canadians.

As fireworks were set off in Iran by those happy to see their president’s demise, in the US, a ceremony to honor the late President, known as the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ for his alleged role in the 1988 massacre, was held in Dearborn, Michigan.

Iranian-American activist Emily Sharif said she was disgusted to see the event on US soil.

“When I saw that US citizens were mourning the death of Ebrahim Raisi, I was not only disappointed, but also appalled. You would think that people who left Iran to seek a better life in the United States would not bring the radical ideology of the Islamic Republic in Iran with them,” said Sharif.

She tweeted out a photo of the ceremony poster to X, telling Iran International that “those who attended the ceremonies in the US to “honor” and mourn Ebrahim Raisi, are the same individuals who remained silent or even celebrated the death of innocent Iranians killed by the regime in Iran. It’s disgusting and shameful.”

Analyst and journalist Jonathan Harounoff said he’s not surprised to see this event in Dearborn.

“Perhaps it’s not surprising after all that Dearborn, where chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are heard regularly, is also where inhabitants mourn over Raisi’s death. I don’t recall seeing mass protests held in Dearborn in support of the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ protesters.”

Gabriel Noronha: The West treats Iran differently than Russia and China

Iran expert and Iran International contributor Gabriel Noronha believes Islamic Republic loyalists feel emboldened in the West, and part of the problem he said, is the West treats Iran with a different standard than Russia and China.

“When the Russian government tried to assassinate Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, several years ago, the United States evicted 60 Russian diplomats and European and British countries evicted another 60 to 90 diplomats here [the US], where you’ve had Iranian assassin operatives multiple times try to kill British and other citizens, you’ve seen zero, diplomats expelled. You’ve seen zero embassies closed, you’ve seen zero sanctions implemented. And so there’s a complete double standard when it comes to assassination intimidation efforts from the Iranians and from the Russians or Chinese,” said Noronha.

He said while the issue of Iranian regime infiltration is impacting all Western countries, he believes it’s an even bigger problem in Europe due to “fewer visa restrictions.”

“There’s a greater sense of entitlement and, freedom for these people to go in and conduct their agenda, unchecked, to the point that they feel entitled to go in and beat up protesters in UK soil,” Noronha added.

In a statement to Iran International, Met police in the UK said they are encouraging anyone with footage that may aid in their investigation to come forward.