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Schoolgirl poisonings: Top cleric urges harshest punishment for perpetrators

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami addresses Friday Prayers in Tehran on January 13, 2023. (File photo by IQNA)

Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has said the perpetrators of poisoning attacks against Iranian schoolgirls should receive the harshest punishment.

Those who carry out the crime of poisoning are committing "corruption on earth" and the sentence for such a crime is death, Ayatollah Khatami said while addressing Friday prayers in Tehran.

The remarks come a few days after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei also described the poisoning as an “unforgivable and big” crime, calling on authorities to seriously pursue the issue.

“If it is proven that the students were poisoned, the perpetrators of this crime must be severely punished. There will be no amnesty for them,” the Leader said on Monday.

Since November 2022, some Iranian students have reported symptoms of poisoning while in school. The outbreak started in the central city of Qom before expanding to other cities.

In most cases, students suffered respiratory problems, nausea, fatigue and dizziness, while some were hospitalized.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi has also ordered the ministers of intelligence and interior to follow up on the poisoning cases.

Anti-Iran plots and objectives in recent months

"Leaders of riots had three plans to damage the establishment; the first one was to bring people to the streets as they told deceived teenagers and youths that the establishment will end with your one-week stay in the streets," Ayatollah Khatami said, referring to violent riots that broke out after the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini. Of course, with the grace of God, this Revolution is "rooted in the hearts" and will not be damaged by few "foolish" actions, he said.

The second plot was to launch an armed conflict and they issued a call for that in December but "no one heard the call and the plot of these devils failed from the beginning," the cleric said.

Their third plot was to harass the great Iranian nation and recent serial poisonings are an example of that, he said. There is no doubt about the occurrence of this "bitter incident" but part of its reported effects are the result of stress which is a different topic, he said.

Enemies pursue three main objectives through serial poisoning, he stated.

Firstly, they seek to undermine security and foment anxiety in society because the feeling of security is more important than the security itself, Ayatollah Khatami said.

The second objective is to stop the scientific growth of Iranian students, he said, adding that enemies want to prevent children from going to school.

The third goal, he said, is to level accusations against the Islamic establishment and believers. This is a "big lie" that no one has bought and will never buy.

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