Iran pro­test­ers fume over downed air­plane

Houston Chronicle - - NATION | WORLD - By Far­naz Fas­sihi and Ben Hub­bard

Wide­spread anger over the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment for shoot­ing down a pas­sen­ger plane and then mis­lead­ing the pub­lic about it sim­mered for a third day Mon­day, with po­lice and pro­test­ers fac­ing off in at least two cities and in­creas­ing de­mands from law­mak­ers for ac­count­abil­ity.

Af­ter days of de­nials, Iran ac­knowl­edged Satur­day that it had mis­tak­enly shot down the Ukrainian air­liner plane, killing 176 peo­ple.

A gov­ern­ment spokesman, Ali Rabeei, said Mon­day that Ira­nian of­fi­cials had not lied to the pub­lic when it in­sisted the plane crashed be­cause of me­chan­i­cal prob­lems, but was pro­vid­ing the lim­ited in­for­ma­tion it had. He said that Pres­i­dent

Has­san Rouhani had learned that mis­siles were fired at the plane only Fri­day, two days af­ter it crashed near the Tehran air­port.

De­mands for gov­ern­ment res­ig­na­tions spread Mon­day from hard-lin­ers, who sup­port Iran’s cler­i­cal gov­ern­ment and called for of­fi­cials to step down over the week­end, to mem­bers of the more mod­er­ate re­formist par­ties, Rouhani’s base.

Bahram Par­saie, a prom­i­nent law­maker from Shi­raz, said that it was not enough for Rouhani and his gov­ern­ment to is­sue state­ments and that they needed to re­sign. He warned that if the pres­i­dent and his Cabi­net were not trans­par­ent with the pub­lic, Par­lia­ment would take le­gal ac­tion against them.

Ali Shak­ouri Rad, the head of a re­formist po­lit­i­cal party, said the grow­ing rift be­tween the pub­lic and the cler­i­cal gov­ern­ment had be­come in­sur­mount­able. “Cov­er­ing up the mis­take of down­ing the pas­sen­ger jet with mis­siles was throw­ing acid at the im­age of the Is­lamic Repub­lic,” he said on Twit­ter.

The back­lash over how the plane crash was han­dled also spread to the of­fi­cial news me­dia Mon­day, with sev­eral prom­i­nent state tele­vi­sion and ra­dio hosts quit­ting their jobs, say­ing they could no longer lie for the gov­ern­ment.

Ge­lare Jab­bari, a pop­u­lar host of state TV’s Chan­nel Two pro­grams, changed her pro­file pic­ture on In­sta­gram to black and posted a pub­lic apol­ogy.

“It was very hard for me to be­lieve the mur­der­ing of my coun­try­men,” she wrote. “For­give me for be­liev­ing it too late. I apol­o­gize for ly­ing to you on TV for 13 years.”

STR / AFP via Getty Im­ages

Ira­nian pro­test­ers hold flow­ers as riot po­lice fire tear gas in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir Uni­ver­sity on Satur­day af­ter Iran ad­mit­ted to mis­tak­enly shoot­ing down a pas­sen­ger plane.

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