A group of 1,200 university students in Iran were killed by food poisoning the night before a wave of anti-regime protests were to spill across the country.
Students at Kharazmi and Ark Universities suffered from vomiting, severe body aches and hallucinations, according to the National Students’ Union Claimed Thursday.
At least four other universities reported similar outbreaks. Reports say uninfected students are boycotting canteens in response.
While officials cite water-borne bacteria as the cause of the troubling symptoms, the student union posited that the population was deliberately poisoned.
“Our previous experience of similar incidents at the University of Isfahan disproves the authorities’ rationale for this mass food poisoning,” the group wrote on Telegram.
Some university clinics have closed supplies ran out to treat dehydration, fueling speculation that the outbreak was planned to smother the three-day strike in response to the Iranian regime’s claims of shutting down the controversial morality police, Arab News reported.
The Morality Police, officially known as the Gasht-e Ershad, or “Guidance Patrol,” was formed in 2006 to enforce the county’s strict dress code for women. The dress code, which dates back to after the 1979 revolution, requires all women to wear hijab head coverings in public.
After that, the group came under fire Death of 22-year-old student Mahsa Amini in police custody Sept. Amini, an aspiring lawyer, was allegedly arrested because her hijab revealed some of her hair.
Amini’s unexplained death sparked mass protests led by women across the country. In addition to large street demonstrations, well-known personalities such as Actresses Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi share pictures of themselves without a headscarf in public.
During Iran’s brief World Cup appearance last month, players and fans even refused to sing the country’s national anthem.
But despite widespread movement, the Iranian regime has shown little sign of yielding to public pressure. initial reports that the vice squad has been abolished were fast followed by clarifications that the decision could not be officially confirmed.
Amid the food poisoning reports, Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad shared a picture on Twitter of an amusement center worker who works without a headscarf.
“The Tehran Prosecutor’s Office has opened a case against her,” Alinejad wrote.
“[The] The morality police were not abolished. It was an absolute lie.”