In Iran, more than one thousand Afghan Moslems staged peaceful protest marches outside the Soviet and Afghan embassies on Thursday (26 April), calling on the Soviet Union to withdraw its presence from the country.
In Iran, more than one thousand Afghan Moslems staged peaceful protest marches outside the Soviet and Afghan embassies on Thursday (26 April), calling on the Soviet Union to withdraw its presence from the country. They also accused the Soviet-backed regime of President Noor Mohammad Tarakki of attacking Moslems living in Afghanistan.
SYNOPSIS: As they marched through the streets of Teheran, the crowd, made up mostly of Afghans, were marshalled by local mullahs. Their targets were the Soviet and Afghan embassies where they planned to protest at Soviet involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan and Iran.
The tone of the placards was uncompromising. Iranian government sources revealed that steps had been taken to protect the embassies from any attack. However, the three countries have been uneasy neighbours since last year, when a left-wing coup toppled the former Afghan administration. The Iranian revolution last February marked the start of a widening rift between Moslem religious leadership and Marxist ideology.
Outside the Soviet embassy, the marchers gathered to hear the stories of atrocities inflicted on Moslem people in Afghanistan. Only last week, one of Iran's top religious leaders, Ayatollah Shariat Modari, urged the Soviet Union to give more freedom to its Moslem minority. He also called on Moscow, in his own words, to "prevent the government of Afghanistan from its violent behaviours towards Moslems and other intellectuals".
Iran's relations with the Soviet Union and Afghanistan have deteriorated sharply in recent months. Iran has protested against a report by Kabul Radio alleging that almost three thousand Afghans had died in the recent fighting, and resisted Moscow's expressed interest in establishing a base in the Indian Ocean.