Munich: Angry Protests on the Eve of Nowrooz

2010/03/15

Published in German daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on 15. March 2010
Source (German): http://www.sueddeutsche.de/I56382/3259768/Wuetender-Protest-zum-Neujahrsfest.html
English translation by @germantoenglish

by Stephan Handel
The protesters are outraged: “Down with the Islamic Republic!”, “Democracy for Iran!”, they shout. T-Shirts and banners carry slogans like “Stop executions in Iran” and “We demand freedom of the press”. About 80 Iranian exiles – the police later spoke of 45 – gathered on the Promenadeplatz opposite the hotel “Bayerischer Hof” Friday night. “We would rather get closer, but the police did not allow us to”, says a protester. It is evident that the hotel is under tighter security than usual. Tonight the Iranian Consulate invited to a reception to celebrate the Persian New Year. “We want to make it clear that there is no space for this in Munich”, says the protester.

They contacted the hotel management, saying that the Iranian regime denies the Holocaust, is a dictatorship, and a regime of injustice. They asked the hotel whether it really wishes to harm its good reputation. The kind, but brief response of Innegrit Volkhart, member of the hotel management, said: The hotel maintains good contacts to all consulates of internationally acknowledged states, and holds a politically neutral position. Moreover, from a legal point of view it was impossible to cancel the concluded contract. The protesters are scandalized: “They would have had to pay a small fine at the most.”

Thus, they decided to at least be present on the spot. This is the first time that different organizations of expat Iranians gather for an event: “Münchner Hilfe für Iran”, the “Solidarity movement for Kurdistan”, the Monarchists, and others. And it becomes evident ho difficult it is to efficiently consolidate the protest: If, for example, the monarchists display their flag, the others refuse to be in the same photo with them.

122 names are being read out – names of people who were convicted and executed after the elections. At the same time, on the other end of the square, about 100 invited guests are arriving; the press is not wanted. Further information is not available.

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