Friday, March 11, 2005

Anti-Tehran protesters removed from plane

Art Moore,
About 90 police officers removed 56 Iranian activists from an airplane at the Brussels airport after a 15-hour standoff in protest of Western accommodation of Tehran's cleric-led Islamic regime.

The activists, who refused to disembark a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt yesterday, were in cell phone contact with an Iranian scholar and activist in London who runs a TV station out of his home, Frood Fouladvand.

The protesters, according to Fouladvand, were chanting: "We are the messengers of peace. We are against global terrorism. We will remove the malignant terrorist regime of the Mullahs." read more

The Boeing 737 arrived at Brussels' Zaventem airport at 3 p.m. local time yesterday with 103 passengers and crew. Police spokeswoman Els Cleemput said the protesters were bussed early this morning to a detention center at the airport to check their identities. Most would not likely be charged.

U.S. Iranian activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, who spoke by telephone with Fouladvand, told WorldNetDaily the protesters wanted an internationally monitored referendum that would enable the Iranian people to choose their next form of government.

Zand-Bonazzi said the protesters included constitutional monarchists, some of whom support the late shah.

She insists they should not be delegitimized as a "bunch of crazies, which is how the Islamic regime will spin this."

"These are heroic Iranians who have taken their guts in their hands," she said. "All of the activists, whether constitutional monarchists or seekers of a republic, will stand behind everything they are doing."

Zand-Bonazzi believes the Iranians want a secular democratic state, not a "reformist" regime as advocated by President Mohammad Khatami, who, she said, simply is carrying out the wishes of the ayatollahs.

"This is the first of a series of confrontations with the European Union," Zand-Bonazzi said. "They will always be peaceful and respectful, but the leaders of Europe have to back down now."

The first order of business, she said, is for Europe to recognize the terrorist threat posed by the Iranian regime.

"[The mullahs] may say they are after the U.S. and Israel, but they are after a secular and democratic lifestyle, which includes Europe," Zand-Bonazzi said.

The protesters were verbally abused by Belgian authorities and accused of hijacking, according to Zand-Bonazzi.

She maintains, however, the activists were doing nothing but singing Iranian freedom anthems and asking to speak to the U.K., French and German representatives of the European Union.

Members of the media were not allowed on the plane, but a spokesman for the group who identified himself only as Ira, told the Associated Press in a phone call from the plane: "We want the European countries, also the United States and Russia to stop helping the Iranian regime."

Ira, who identified himself as an American national and psychiatrist from New York, said, "We want these leaders to stop supporting terrorist regimes any longer ... to get rid of this Islamic regime or any kind of radical brutal religious movement from Iran."

He said his group, Anjoman-E Padeshahi Iran, wants the overthrow of Iran's government and the signing of a pledge by the United States, European Union and Russia to stop cooperating with the Islamic regime.

Jerome Corsi, author of the new book "Atomic Iran," cheered the protesters.

"This protest shows the situation in Iran is getting critical," he told WND. "There is significant dissent within Iran. The mullahs are making a desperate attempt to grab nuclear weapons as a last-gasp effort to hold on to power.

"These protesters want to bring to the attention of the world that the Europeans are pursuing an appeasement policy that favors these criminals who have hijacked Iran."