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Crime & Exhilaration

Younes Panahi, the Deputy Health Minister of Iran, has shocked the world by revealing that female students were poisoned in his country to be stopped from going to school and getting educated. Evidence of poisoning has been found in the bodies of several female students in the religious city of Qom and other major cities since November 2022. The minister recently admitted that someone deliberately poisoned the female students.

Speaking at a media conference in Tehran on February 26, 2023, Panahi stressed: “It was found that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed. It has been revealed that the chemical compounds used to poison students are not war chemicals, and the poisoned students do not need aggressive treatment, and a large percentage of the chemical agents used are treatable.” Meanwhile, the minister made no comment on the culprits; and the Police, too, are yet to arrest a single person.

The parents of the poisoned students gathered in front of the schools on February 14, demanding an explanation from the concerned authorities. Next day, Ali Bahadori Jahromi, the spokesperson of the Iranian Government, announced that detectives and the Education Ministry would investigate the matter. He also assured the parents that how the poison had entered the bodies of the students would be investigated. Homayoun Sameh Najafabadi, a member of the Health Committee of Majlis (the Iranian Parliament), also confirmed that the poisoning of female school students in Qom, Borujerd and 23 other cities was intentional.

It may be noted that Anti-Government protests have rocked Iran since the death of 19-year-old Mahsa Amini in Police custody on September 16, 2022. The Religious Moral Police had detained Amini for not wearing hijab as per Government rule. It was alleged that the young lady died due to Police brutality. Later, thousands of women took to the streets, and joined the protests by publicly cutting their hair and burning their hijabs. The flame of protests against Islamic conservatism spread across the globe, although the Government of Iran made a serious attempt to suppress the protesters by using force.

Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader (Ayatollah) Ali Hosseini Khamenei assured death penalty regarding poisoning of school girls. He strongly condemned the killing of more than 1,000 girls after maintaining silence for nearly two weeks. As the Anti-Hijab protesters accused the Government of Iran of this mass murder, Khamenei hastily gave this assurance on March 6. At the same time, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, the Chief Justice of Iran’s Supreme Court, announced on the same day that women should be punished for not following the proper dress code. According to the Iranian State media, the Chief Justice ordered the administration to take strict action against the Anti-Hijab protesters, stressing that not wearing a hijab would be considered as a disrespect to traditional Islamic values. He made it clear that the administration would take all sorts of steps to punish those who would disrespect these values.

In a separate development, Iran has announced rewards for Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old man who had stabbed Indian-born British-American novelist Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie 10 times, including in the neck and the abdomen, on August 12, 2022 at Chautauqua in New York. Although Rushdie had survived the assassination bid, he lost sight in one eye and the strength in one hand. The Iranian authorities are happy to see the physical condition of the author.

The State Television of the West Asian nation recently reported that a Government-run trust decided to honour Hadi by providing him with 1,000sqmt of farmland. Hadi is currently in a New York jail, as a criminal case is pending against him. Hence, it is not possible for Hadi to receive the award.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran, Mohammad Ismail Zarei, the Head of the Secretariat to Implement Khomeini’s Fatwa on Execution of Salman Rushdie, recently said: “We sincerely thank the young American for his brave action in carrying out the historic fatwa of Imam Khomeini. With this action, he blinded Salman Rushdie in one eye and disabled his arm to make Muslims happy.” He added: “Although Salman Rushdie is nothing more than a walking dead, in order to honour this brave action, about a 1,000 square metres of a valuable and fertile agricultural land will be awarded to the stabber or his legal representative in a special ceremony.

Rushdie has been living with a bounty on his head since his The Satanic Verses was published in 1988. The publication had prompted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (May 17, 1900 – June 3, 1989) to issue a fatwa, urging the followers of Islam to kill the author.

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