Hundreds of Iranian girls in different schools have suffered “mild poison” attacks over recent months, the health minister said, with some politicians suggesting they could have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls’ education.
The attacks come at a critical time for Iran’s clerical rulers, who faced months of anti-government protests sparked by the death of a young Iranian woman in the custody of the morality police who enforce strict dress codes.
The poison attacks at more than 30 schools in at least four cities started in November in Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom, prompting some parents to take their children out of school, state media reported.
Social media posts showed some hospitalised schoolgirls, who said they had felt nauseous and suffered heart palpitations.
“Investigating where this mild poison comes from … and whether it is an intentional move are not within the scope of my ministry,” Health Minister Bahram Einollahi was quoted as saying by state media.
His deputy, Younes Panahi, said on Sunday “it was found that some people wanted schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed”, according to IRNA state news agency.