Only “several students” in the city of Qom, not hundreds, were poisoned, Iran’s deputy health minister said.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Hundreds of Iranian girls have been deliberately poisoned so they wouldn’t go to school, Iranian state media reported Sunday.
The IRNA news agency quoted Deputy Health Minister Younes Panahi as downplaying the incident by saying that only “several students” in the city of Qom had been poisoned. He did, however, release the motivation for the attack, saying “it was found that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed.”
He did not reveal additional information about the alleged perpetrators, nor was any announcement made about any arrests.
The numbers are much higher than Panahi said. Hundreds of young girls in the holy Shiite city have been complaining of breathing problems, coughing, nausea and headaches for the last three months. Some were even hospitalized.
Some two weeks ago, parents demanded action by the municipal authorities, and the government announced the very next day that it would look into the incidents.
According to the investigation, unknown persons have apparently been bringing some kind of chemical material into schools. The kinds of chemicals used are easily obtainable, it added, without providing specifics.
There are Islamic extremists who do not believe girls should have an education. The most well-known case is that of the Sunni Muslim Taliban in Afghanistan. Just as in their first run in government in the 1990s, after their second takeover of the country in 2021, the Taliban began preventing most girls from attending high school and prohibited all women from going to university.
The Wall Street Journal and other Western media reported in December that the ban now extends to primary school as well, although the Islamist government denied the charge.
Iran is a Shiite Muslim country, and its strict theocratic regime relegates women to a secondary role. However, most girls attend primary and secondary school, and a large minority go on to higher education, although there are restrictions, such as what fields they are allowed to study.
Iran has been embroiled for months in civil protests, with both women and men demanding more freedom in general and a loosening of restrictions on women in particular. Several hundred protestors have been killed by regime forces and thousands arrested.
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