29 May 2006

Ethnic Rioting in Iran Over Cartoon

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Ethnic tension marked by massive protests by members of the Azeri Turkish minority have broken out in Iran over the publication of a cartoon. The BBC reports:

Azeris said the cartoon, which was published earlier this month, compared them to cockroaches.

Reports from the cities of Ardebil, Naqadeh and Meshkin Shahr say Iranian security forces fired on demonstrators, killing at least five people.

Dozens of others were injured and hundreds arrested.

The cartoon was published in a state-owned newspaper.

It showed a succession of people attempting to talk to a cockroach in Persian.

Each time, the insect responded by saying, in Azeri: “What do you mean?”

Azeris are the largest ethnic minority in Iran, and the cartoon caused outrage among those who believed it suggested that all Azeris were stupid.

Thousands of people took to the streets in protest and, shortly afterwards, the newspaper was shut down and its editor arrested.

But that did not quell the anger. In the latest protests on Saturday, government buildings were targeted, and a number of banks and television stations burnt down.

The Azeri minority, resident largely in Northwestern Iran, make up more than 25% of the population of Iran, and are regarded as srong supporters of the fundamentalist Isaic regime. One Iranian blogger in Los Angeles views the fundamentalist regime as pursuing a policy of Turkification, and illustrates the relevant physical ethnic differences.

Chuck at YARGB is providing coverage, and has posted a very helpful ethnic map of Iran.

Gateway Pundit is collecting coverage of the rioting.

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