A protest against British sanctions turned into violence and possible hostage-taking on Tuesday, with Iranian students and regime supporters storming the British Embassy in Tehran.
On Sunday, the Iranian Parliament responded to British sanctions on Iran by voting to expel the British ambassador and reduce diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. Western sanctions on Iran have become increasingly severe since an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report revealed that Iran’s nuclear program is not peaceful as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted, but rather is intended to create nuclear weapons.
Thousands of protestors gathered outside the British embassy to demand the expulsion of Britain’s ambassador. The IRNA News Agency in Iran reported chants of “Allah Hu Akbar (God is great)”, “Down with Britain”, “Down with the US”, and “Down with Israel” called out by the crowd.
Soon after, demonstrators stormed the embassy and began lobbing firebombs, smashing windows, burning cars and destroying documents at the embassy. The British flag, royal crest, and pictures of the Queen were also burned. Reports varied as to whether six embassy employees were taken hostage by assailants. FARS news agency reported that police had secured the release of six captives, before which news of hostage-taking disappeared from the Mehr news agency website.
The UN Security Council condemned the group attack “in the strongest terms”. The British Foreign Office expressed “outrage” and called the event “utterly unacceptable”. US President Barack Obama called the attacks “deeply disturbing”, and condemned Iran for not protecting foreign diplomats.
As part of the demonstration, members of the Muslim Students Followers of the Supreme Leader issued a statement which they wrote in blood, according to Britain’s The Telegraph: “Our people are not prepared to be humiliated any more under any circumstances and prefer a red death to a condemned life of misery. We are ready to be killed for our aims.”