Iranian students riot outside German Embassy

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Hundreds of students threatened to storm the German Embassy on Monday, stoning the compound and battling riot police in the first violence over a German court ruling accusing Iran of assassinating exiled dissidents.
The court’s finding has created the worst diplomatic crisis between Iran and the West since 1989, when revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged Muslims around the world to find and kill British author Salman Rushdie.
Some of the roughly 400 students threw stones at the embassy in downtown Tehran, which since this weekend has been protected by a second, hastily erected 10-foot fence.
Almost 1,000 riot police stood six deep outside the compound and linked arms — at one point, drawing their shotguns to make it clear to the students that they would not be allowed through.
Police roughed up several students and briefly detained dozens.
It was the first violence since a Berlin court convicted four men Thursday in the 1992 murders of four Iranian dissidents in Berlin and said that the order to kill came from Iran’s top leaders. Prosecutors earlier implicated Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Unlike a demonstration a day earlier that drew 100,000 people, Monday’s protest seemed to take the Iranian government by surprise.
“Yesterday’s protest did not express the Iranian nation’s anger, and today we will make it clear,” Amir Fateh, a student leader, said before marching from Tehran University to the embassy.
Fateh, who was arrested Monday but released an hour later, said the protesters wanted to get through the embassy gate and hold a protest inside the compound “to express our anger.”
In 1979, militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans for 444 days. The anniversary of the Nov. 4 takeover has become a traditional day of protest ever since.
But the government of the Islamic Republic, while keen on showing its anger at the court verdict, has been reluctant to let any violence further strain its relations with the West.
Police refused a request by protest organizers to remove the German flag from the embassy compound.
The demonstration died down after about 30 minutes. Busloads of riot police left the area, and shopkeepers opened their stores when police allowed traffic to enter the area again.
About 100 police remained to guard the embassy, which opened Monday morning after a four-day closure. The German diplomats had left by the time the protest began.
As the students left, they shouted “Death to Zionist Germany” and “Death to the Zionist judge.”
Iran has accused Germany of succumbing to American and Israeli pressure in its court ruling, which unleashed protests across Iran.
“By taking their recent move, the Germans were caught in a trap set by the Zionists, thus harming the century-old relations between Tehran and Bonn,” Rafsanjani was quoted as saying Monday by Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency.
European nations, while saying they would withdraw their envoys in Tehran, have stopped short of severing diplomatic or trade ties.
After the court verdict, Germany called home its ambassador and expelled four Iranian diplomats. Iran responded by withdrawing its envoy in Bonn and ordering four German diplomats out.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati warned that Iran would withdraw its ambassador from any country that did the same.