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International Schools Close in Tehran

At least three international schools in Tehran prudently closed their doors after a mob ransacked the British embassy as police stood by.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/6/2011, 2:12 AM

Children at The British School, Tehran
Children at The British School, Tehran
courtesy of The British School, Tehran

At least three international schools in Tehran -- those of Britain, Germany and France -- have prudently closed their doors, after a mob ransacked the British embassy in the Iranian capital as Iranian police stood by and did nothing until the building was essentially destroyed.

The British School, Tehran, was founded in 2000 as a joint initiative of the British and Dutch embassies, according to a blurb on the school's website. The school, created to educate expatriate students ages 3 to 13 who live in Iran, usually has children from more than 30 different nationalities in its classrooms.

But no longer.

A letter posted on the school's website informs parents of the student body, "We have received no notification of when the school can reopen... We have spoken to the German and French Schools who have kindly offered their help with our children. Both schools are closed until the 6th December."

The French School, with 256 Iranian and foreign students, is located on the grounds of the British embassy. Children were in class when Iranian "students" began storming the compound.

The nearby German School was also affected by the violence -- its windows were shattered -- and administrators closed the building.

All three schools have been shut down ever since. Hundreds of pupils have been left without classes, and a number of foreign teachers and their families have fled the country, parents were told, according to the Reuters news agency.

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

A government worker, Hassan Vosughi, told the news agency, "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. I and all my friends have stockpiled goods at home."

Despite the panic, Israel has said it has no intentions of attacking the Islamic Republic at this time.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview last weekend that the recent explosions in the country were not part of any "shadow war" against Iran's nuclear program, and that currently that battle was being carried out in the realm of diplomacy and economic sanctions.

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed in its most recent report last month that it had credible intelligence that Iran is indeed seeking nuclear weapons technology.

A senior U.S. State Department official, Robert Einhorn, added Monday as well that "strong steps" need to be taken -- urgently -- to stop Iran's headlong rush towards nuclear technology. Einhorn, a senior adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, told reporters, "The situation in Iran has become more and more worrisome. The timeline for its nuclear program is beginning to get shorter, so it is important we take these strong steps on an urgent basis."