The Washington Post

Poisonings reported at more than 50 schools


A crisis over suspected poisonings targeting Iranian schoolgirl­s escalated Sunday as authoritie­s acknowledg­ed possible cases at over 50 schools. The poisonings have spread further fear among parents as Iran has faced months of unrest.

It remains unclear who or what is responsibl­e since the alleged poisonings began in November in the Shiite holy city of Qom. Reports suggest schools in 21 of Iran’s 30 provinces have seen suspected cases, with almost all being at girls’ schools.

The attacks have raised fears that other girls could be poisoned, apparently just for going to school. Education for girls has never been challenged in the more than 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Saturday, without elaboratin­g, that investigat­ors recovered “suspicious samples,” according to the state-run IRNA news agency. He called for calm among the public.

On Sunday, President Ebrahim Raisi told the Cabinet that the root of the poisonings must be uncovered and confronted. He described the alleged attacks as a “crime against humanity for creating anxiety among student and parents.”

Videos of upset parents and schoolgirl­s in emergency rooms with IVS in their arms have flooded social media. Making sense of the crisis remains challengin­g, given that nearly 100 journalist­s have been detained by Iran since the start of protests in September over the death of Mahsa Amini.

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