Twelve arrested at London protests after death of Mahsa Amini in Iran | UK news

Twelve people have been arrested during protests in London calling for an end to Iran’s Islamic republic, including outside the country’s UK embassy, after the death of a 22-year-old woman.

Angry protesters could be seen shouting and pushing officers who had formed a cordon in front of the embassy in Princes Gate, Knightsbridge.

Crowds chanted, “Death to the Islamic republic” and waved Iran’s former national flag from before 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown in a revolution by religious hardliners. Several hundred had gathered in Trafalgar Square for a demonstration on Saturday.

The protest took place at the same time as others in cities across Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody after she was arrested by the country’s morality police.

Other protests have taken place across Europe, including in Paris, where teargas was fired at protesters who were making their way towards the embassy in the French capital. A photo of Amini could be seen on one poster in London, while another said: “Stop execution in Iran.”

Footage on social media showed altercations among those in the crowd, and two officers wrestling a protester to the ground who had broken through the police line.

Police hold back protesters outside the embassy. Photograph: Twitter

Scotland Yard said several Metropolitan police officers sustained injuries during the protests, including broken bones, but none are believed to have been seriously hurt.

Riot police were seen trying to clear protesters off the road near Marble Arch, about a mile away from the embassy across Hyde Park.

“A significant policing presence will remain in and around the area to monitor the situation,” the Met said.

By 7.30pm the crowd had been cleared from the area outside the embassy, but a handful of officers remained outside the building. Protesters, some of whom had been outside the embassy earlier in the day, stood before walls of riot police who had cordoned off Kilburn Road near the Islamic Centre of England in north-west London, where crowds had gathered earlier.

Police outside the Kilburn Islamic Centre in London.Police outside the Kilburn Islamic Centre in London. Photograph: David Parry/PA

They spoke of clashes with police, and of the event turning regrettably violent. But as the evening stretched on, people stood peacefully before the lines of riot police, lifting photographs of Amini above the crowd, chanting her name and “Freedom for Iran”.

People made peace signs as they chanted in unison. Mounted police could be seen behind the lines of riot police, and one man was sitting handcuffed by a police van. A dispersal order was later introduced. Twelve people were arrested in total at the protests in both Maida Vale and Knightsbridge on suspicion of violent order offences, the force said.

Maryam, 44, who lives nearby, said she came to show solidarity with the young people and women out on the streets in Iran, burning their scarves and risking their lives to “try and change the country for the better”.

“It’s the least we can do to show them some support,” she added. Mentioning the 2009 green movement, where demonstrations followed the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there were few differences, she said, mainly that protests were now taking place across cities and provinces in Iran.

“I think now the pressure has built up so much, and the chanting – it’s much more direct than before,” said Maryam, who was born in Tehran. “At the government, at the spiritual leader, at [Iran’s supreme leader Ali] Khamenei especially. They wouldn’t say such things before.”

In recent days, family members in Tehran, whom she has spoken with intermittently as internet access has been cut off, have told her the streets are busy with protesters. “Mahsa was our sister, and there’s so many Mahsas in Iran who don’t have a voice,” added Maryam.

Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that it had summoned Britain’s ambassador, Simon Shercliff, over what it described as a hostile atmosphere created by London-based Farsi-language media outlets.

The Met’s Cmdr Karen Findley said: “We respect the right of people to protest peacefully and always work with organisers to make that possible, but we will not tolerate unprovoked attacks on our officers as we have seen today or protest that leaves other communities feeling unsafe.

“We have officers in hospital tonight because they were attacked in what was a significant outbreak of violent disorder. We will make sure they get the support they need.

“We have already made a number of arrests, but we know there are people who were not caught tonight who committed serious offences.

“In the coming days, we will be using all the tools at our disposal – including CCTV and other footage – to identify those people and bring them to justice.”

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