Tens of thousands gather in Berlin to protest against Tehran regime

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By Euronews  with AP
People attend a protest against the Iranian regime, in Berlin, 22 October 2022
People attend a protest against the Iranian regime, in Berlin, 22 October 2022   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Germany's capital on Saturday to show solidarity with protesters in Iran -- a movement sparked by the death of a woman in the custody of morality police now challenging the Islamic Republic authorities.

Berlin police estimated that some 80,000 people had joined the German demonstration by late afternoon.

Participants held up Iranian flags and signs criticising Iran's leaders, many with the tagline "Women, Life, Freedom" in both English and German.

One of the speakers at the protests asked the international community to banish ambassadors from Tehran and not to negotiate with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as "the Islamic Republic does not represent Iran."

"We all have a dream," the speaker was quoted as saying by Euronews Persian.

“In this dream, the prisoners are not tried and executed in three minutes. In this dream, thugs do not put belts around the necks of writers and poets." 

The demonstration, organised by the Woman*-Life-Freedom collective, began at the Victory Column in Berlin's Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.

Some demonstrators said they had come from elsewhere in Germany and other European countries to show their support.

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
People attend a protest against the Iranian regime, in Berlin, 22 October 2022AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

"It is so important for us to be here, to be the voice of the people of Iran, who are killed on the streets," said Shakib Lolo, who is from Iran but lives in the Netherlands. 

"And this is not a protest anymore, this is a revolution in Iran. And the people of the world have to see it."

"They want to have their own rights, they want to choose what they want to want, (if) they want to have hijab or they want to have no hijab, this should be their own decision. That is why now this is happening," Mehrnoush Mouri, another Iranian living in the Netherlands said.

"A lot of people in Iran they don't want Islamic Republic of Iran, because they are killing our children, they are killing our women and they are killing all the people that want, that have a different idea."

Some people at Saturday's Berlin demonstration were seen flying flags associated with the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK.

The MEK began as a Marxist group opposing the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution but soon had a falling out with Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against his clerical government, carrying out a series of assassinations and bombings in the Islamic Republic.

The MEK later fled to Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, leading many people in Iran to oppose the group.

Although now largely based in Albania, the group claims to operate a network inside Iran.

Other issues were the focus of demonstrations in Berlin as well, including one calling for social solidarity in the wake of a potential energy crisis and another advocating a speed limit on German highways.

In Tehran, more antigovernment protests took place Saturday at several universities. The nationwide movement in Iran first focused on the country's mandatory hijab following the 16 September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the morality police.

Security forces have dispersed gatherings with live ammunition and tear gas, leaving over 200 people dead, according to rights groups.

The government in Tehran also has been in the spotlight in European capitals due to allegations that Iran has supplied explosive drones that Russian troops are using in Ukraine.