Several hundred students threw stones and firebombs at the British Embassy in Tehran in protest at the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Iraq.
A few windows were broken in the embassy, and firebombs went off outside its walls during the two-hour protest today, before Iranian police wielding sticks waded into the demonstrators and dispersed them.
Nearly 1,000 students gathered outside the embassy and held a peaceful protest, chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Britain” and blaming the two countries for Wednesday’s bombing of the shrine in the Iraqi town of Samarra.
“We hold the occupiers of Iraq responsible,” one banner read. They also held signs denouncing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were printed in European papers.
The larger demonstration ended without incident. But several hours later, around 400 students returned and attacked the facility.
The Iraqi government has accused Sunni militants in the attack, which destroyed the shrine’s golden dome and sparked a bloody wave of sectarian violence between Iraq’s Shiites and Sunnis that security forces are still struggling to contain.
But some Shiites across the Mideast have directed their anger at the US military presence in Iraq, saying they failed to provide security. Britain has troops in the US-led multinational force in Iraq.
On Thursday, the president of Iran – a predominantly Shiite nation – accused the US and Israel of carrying out the bombing to divide Muslims.
“They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech in southwest Iran, referring to US-led forces.
A series of Iranian protests against the prophet caricatures have turned into attacks against embassies in recent weeks, though the government has denounced violence against foreign missions.