Foreign schools in Tehran close after embassy attack

Hundreds of students stay home amid fears schools will be new target for hardliners
Foreign schools in Tehran close after embassy attack
Britain evacuated all diplomatic staff from Iran after the attack on its embassy
By Reuters
Tue 06 Dec 2011 10:24 AM

International
schools in Iran have shut their doors after hardline students stormed the
British embassy
last week, stoking ordinary Iranians' fears that foreigners are
about to pull out of the Islamic Republic ahead of a US or Israeli-led attack.

Protesters
stormed and ransacked Britain's two diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday,
prompting Britain to evacuate its staff from the country and expel Iranian
diplomats from London.

The French
school in Tehran is located on British embassy grounds and children were in
class when the mob swarmed through the compound gates. Windows at the German
school nearby were shattered in the attack, but the British school escaped the
worst of the chaos after teachers sent pupils home early.

The
schools have remained shut since, forcing hundreds of children to stay home.
Foreign teachers and their families have left Iran, parents were told, though
the French school hopes to resume lessons on Sunday, and Britain's in the New
Year.

"Where
can I send my kids in the middle of the school year ... who is going to take
care of them when I cannot leave my job in Iran?" asked a single mother
with two children at the French school, which has 256 Iranian and foreign students.

Several
European countries have recalled their ambassadors from Iran. The British
embassy attack was triggered when London imposed financial sanctions after a
UN report suggested Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons.

Britain
says Tehran supported the attack, which has pushed ties to their lowest ebb
since Iran severed diplomatic relations in 1989 over the publication of Salman
Rushdie's book 'The Satanic Verses'.

Iran's
isolation over its nuclear ambitions, its claim to have shot down a US spy drone
in its airspace on Sunday and the British embassy attack are feeding ordinary
Iranians' fears.

"Many
foreigners are leaving Iran ... I suspect that there will be military action
... we will become another Iraq," said architect Mahsa Sedri, 35.
"Obviously something is going on ... otherwise the foreigners would not
leave Iran."

Washington
and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear
facilities should diplomacy fail to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear
programme, a position that has only hardened since the critical report by the
International Atomic Energy Agency last month.

"We
are going to be attacked ... I sense it ... I am pulling out my money from the
bank to have cash in hand in case of an attack," said government employee
Hassan Vosughi. "I and all my friends have stockpiled goods at home."

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