IRGC arrests several people over inviting Azerbaijanis to “riots” in social media
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 11
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has arrested a group of people in the northern province of Gilan on charges of inviting Azerbaijanis to "riot."
The intelligence department of the IRGC identified and arrested those people inviting Turkish speaking citizens of the province via social media to hold protests, an IRGC office said, Tasnim news agency reported Nov. 11.
The official, who was not identified, said the arrests were "timely" and part of an "orderly, coordinated and powerful operation."
No details regarding the identities of the detained individuals have been publicized.
A slur against ethnic Azerbaijanis on an Iranian children's television program sparked protests that spilled onto the streets on Nov. 9.
The program, Fitileh, contained a satiric show that depicted an Azerbaijani child brushing his teeth with a toilet brush.
Fitileh is a popular program aired every Friday. However, it was temporarily banned following its latest broadcast on Nov. 6.
Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), apologized for the episode, which he said was "insulting" to ethnic Azerbaijanis. He also said the producers of the program would be severely punished.
This is not the first controversy over Iranians who are ethnically Azerbaijanis. Back in 2006, Iran's government suspended a state-owned newspaper after it ran a cartoon that led to riots among the country's Azerbaijani community.
The cartoon in the "Iran" newspaper depicted a cockroach speaking the Azerbaijani language.
Iran's press supervisory board banned the newspaper, and both the cartoonist and editor were arrested.
Follow the author on Twitter: @UmidNiayesh