Iranian officials are looking into reports that 700 schoolgirls in the vicinity of Qom were poisoned with some type of “toxic gas.”
According to BBC, there have been very few hospitalizations and no deaths. However, panic is spreading among parents in the country and some believe that the aim of the attacks is to make parents withdraw their children from school.
Protests continue in Iran. Many girls’ schools are at the heart of these demonstrations. In solidarity with street protesters, the girls removed their headcovers and cut their hair. Some dissidents believe that the government or pro-government forces are taking revenge against the schools to force them to close.
On Sunday, the deputy health minister stated that “it became evident that some people wanted to close down all schools, particularly girls’ schools.”
He later admitted that he had misunderstood his remarks.
Last week, the prosecutor general declared that he would open a criminal investigation. He said however that there was no evidence to suggest “criminal and premeditated” acts.
Nevertheless, frustrations among the public continue to grow.
On Nov. 30, 2022, 18 students from Nour Technical School in Qom were poisoned. At least 10 schools for girls have been attacked since then.
Before falling ill, the poisoned girls reported that they smelled tangerine and rotten fish.
At least 100 protestors gathered in front of Qom’s governor’s office earlier this month.
“You have to protect our children!” In a viral video shared across social media, one father said that he had two daughters. “Two daughters… all I can do to stop them from going to school.”
A woman declared, “This is war!” “They’re doing this at a girls’ high school in Qom to make us sit at home.” They want girls to remain at home.
Mohammad Habibi, a spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers Trade Association, tweeted that “the poisoning of girls at schools for girls, which have been confirmed to be deliberate acts, was neither arbitrary nor accidental.” He added that to erase gains in freedom of clothing (the authorities) must increase public fear.
The Iranian wildmen are not to be trusted. Given the extreme factionalism in the Iranian government, it is possible that one group devised this brilliant plan to slightly poison little girls and leave parents and teachers fearful.
One such grouping, the extremist hardline faction, may be trying to emulate the Taliban which shut down girls’ secondary schools in September.
Dan Kaszeta is a London-based defense specialist who points out that the Taliban’s plan to poison girls’ schools is straight out of their playbook.
“These incidents in Iran seem remarkably similar to the dozens of incidents that have occurred at schools in Afghanistan in the past few years,” he said. He said that although pesticides were suspected in a few cases, most of the illnesses are still unsolved.
It is absurd that anyone could look at a little girl as a threat to the regime. However, no one has ever accused Iranian fanatics of being intelligent.