In Iran, the arrest of two French teachers, a sign of rising social tensions in the country

A new case of “prisoners-hostages” will poison relations between Paris and Tehran, already at their lowest. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced, Thursday, May 12, the “unfounded” arrest of two French people in Iran, demanding their “immediate release” and promising to “remain fully mobilized for this purpose”.

The French ambassador in Tehran was trying to obtain consular access to these two people and the charge d’affaires of the Iranian embassy in Paris was summoned to the Quai d’Orsay, the ministry said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Iranian intelligence ministry announced the arrest of two “European teachers”without specifying their nationality, implicated for having sought to “causing chaos and social disorder with the aim of destabilizing” the country. They are notably accused of having met with members of the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Associations, a trade union network that fights against the deterioration of living standards and repression.

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The two French nationals, a couple of teachers who are members of the Force Ouvrière (FO) trade union confederation, were arrested at Tehran airport on May 8 as they were preparing to return to France, according to the media. Iran International, published in the UK. Within the National Federation of Education, Culture and Vocational Training-FO (Fnec FP-FO), it is ensured that they were visiting the country on a private basis for the holidays.

But their profile, one of them being a member of the federation’s management in charge of the union’s international relations, must have aroused the interest of the Iranian security services. The two French would have entered the country on April 29, two days before a national mobilization, the 1er May, workers in the education sector; it gave rise to rallies and demonstrations in nearly sixty cities across the twenty-one provinces of the country in a tense climate.

social awakening

Since the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement on the Iranian nuclear file, in 2018, at the initiative of the administration of former President Donald Trump, American sanctions have been reimposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran , dragging the country into an inflationary spiral. The local currency has lost 80% of its value against the dollar and the inflation rate is close to 40% on an annual basis.

The social front has woken up. Civil servants, petrochemical workers and even retirees are multiplying the demonstrations against the deterioration of their standard of living and the corruption – which they attribute to the elites of the regime – experienced as ever more unbearable. At the forefront of the challenge: the education sector.

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