| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Citing attack threat, France bans Iranian opposition rally, a document shows

According to a letter written to the organizers and obtained by Reuters, France has banned a planned Iranian opposition gathering due to the potential of an attack, following the release of an Iranian ambassador convicted of masterminding a conspiracy to bomb the organization in 2018.

The embargo comes as Western governments strive to alleviate tensions with Iran, and only a few weeks after Tehran freed seven Europeans, including two French nationals, from prison. On June 10, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke for 90 minutes with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), political arm of the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), has held frequent rallies in the French capital over the years, often attended by high profile former U.S., European and Arab officials critical of the Islamic Republic.

In February, the NCRI attracted several thousand people to an event in central Paris, and plans its annual rally on July 1.

However, given a recent spate of mass anti-government protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman while in morality police custody, a “tense context” had developed posing “very significant security risks” to NCRI gatherings, said the document, a letter from Paris police chief Laurent Nunez.

Therefore, “this meeting, organised every year since 2008, cannot be held…” read the letter, sent to the NCRI rally’s organising committee.

In response to an inquiry, Paris police issued a statement to Reuters confirming that they had informed the committee of the decision to ban the rally as it could “generate disturbances to public order due to the geopolitical context”.

“Moreover, given the terrorist risk cannot be neglected, the holding of such an event would make its security but also the security of sensitive guests extremely complex,” said the statement.

A senior NCRI official condemned the decision when asked about it by Reuters, before the police confirmation.

“If French authorities take such a stance, it will represent a brazen disregard for democratic principles, caving in to the ruling religious tyranny’s blackmail and hostage-taking,” Shahin Gobadi, a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

  • Reuters