Anger in Iran after police arrest striking workers in overnight raids

Iran has been hit by strikes over working conditions in several key sectors. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Anger in Iran after police arrest striking workers in overnight raids

  • After a series of rallies and protest meetings by the strikers, police raided workers’ homes overnight on Sunday and detained at least 30 men

JEDDAH: Anger has erupted in Iran’s restive Khuzestan province after security forces arrested dozens of striking steel workers.

More than 4,000 employees at the National Steel Industrial Group in Ahvaz stopped work on Nov. 9 in a dispute over unpaid wages and benefits.

After a series of rallies and protest meetings by the strikers, police raided workers’ homes overnight on Sunday and detained at least 30 men.

The arrests were described as a “mark of infamy” by Iran’s Free Labor Union, a banned workers’ rights group.

“Instead of considering the demands of the oppressed and desperate workers, the entire government apparatus raided their homes in the middle of the night, terrorized their wives and children, and arrested the breadwinners,” the group said on social media.

“All those who 40 years ago took the destiny of our people in their own hands by claiming to be on the side of the downtrodden now shamelessly raid the homes of workers and put them in chains.”

The arrests were also raised in the Iranian Parliament. “This is a violation of the constitution,” said Alireza Mahjoub, head of Parliament’s labor faction. He called on Parliament to intervene to free the arrested workers.

The Ahvaz protests started shortly after a strike by workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar factory in nearby Shush over wage arrears and alleged criminal activity by new private owners.

Iran has been hit by strikes over working conditions in several key sectors this year, including education, mines, transport and the steel industry, mainly outside Tehran.

Last month judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani warned workers against creating “disorder.” They “should not allow their demands to become an excuse and an instrument for the enemy,” he said.


How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

Updated 21 min 50 sec ago
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How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

  • Brooklyn-born rabbi who demanded forced emigration of Arabs and inspired Israel’s far right is latest subject of Arab News ‘Preachers of Hate’ series
  • As a member of the Israeli parliament, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration

JEDDAH: As Israel’s most right-wing government in living memory prepares to take office, the outlook for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has rarely been more dismal.

After his narrow election victory this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clinging to office by assembling a coalition of Knesset members with no interest in peace. They range from far-right ultra Zionists to overt racists. Many, in particular the Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power” party, are acolytes of Meir Kahane — a Brooklyn-born rabbi who co-founded the militant Jewish Defense League in 1968,  joined the West Bank settler movement and established an extremist Israeli political party.

It is because of this toxic legacy that Kahane is the subject today of Preachers of Hate — the Arab News series that exposes extremist clerics of all religions and nationalities, places their words and deeds in context, and explains their malign influence on those who follow them.

As a member of the Knesset, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration. 

In the end he proved too extreme even for the Israeli far right; he was disqualified from running for office, and was eventually assassinated in New York in 1990.

Kahane’s hatred lives on, however, in Israel’s continuing rejection of the Palestinian people’s entitlement to basic human dignity, far less a meaningful peace process and an independent state.

As the leading academic and Arab News columnist Yossi Mekelberg writes today: “Few people have contaminated the discourse within Israel with sheer hatred and anti-Arab bigotry as much as Meir Kahane.”

 

Also Read: Meir Kahane: A torch to fuel anti-Arab hatred