Iran Says 330 Arrested Over Recent Cartoon Unrest
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Protesters at Tabriz University on May 22 (Courtesy Photo)
June 22, 2006 -- The head of the judiciary in Iran's Eastern Azerbaijan Province today said that 330 people were arrested in connection with protests that erupted in May in the country's predominantly Azeri northwestern regions over a controversial cartoon.
Najaf Aghazadeh claimed as many as 85 people had direct responsibility for the unrest and would face trial.
He said some of the detainees are members of the Bahai ethnic minority group, while others belong to the Tudeh (Communist) party and two have ties to Israel.
The protests erupted after the Tehran-based, government-controlled "Iran" newspaper published a cartoon on May 19 showing a cockroach speaking Azeri.
The unrest started in Tabriz, the main city in the Eastern Azerbaijan province, and rapidly spread to other cities.
Iranian authorities say four demonstrators were killed.