TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Britain on Wednesday to curb its “savage” treatment of rioters and the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi said Prime Minister David Cameron had lost legitimacy and should go.
Television pictures of riot police battling to quell unprecedented unrest in cities across Britain have led news schedules in countries that London accuses of human rights abuses, giving their leaders the chance to hit back.
“What kind of country treats its own people like this? The ugliest treatment is the police’s unacceptable attack on the people, who have no weapons in hand,” Ahmadinejad told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.
Britain was in the forefront of Western countries that condemned Iran’s crushing response to massive street demonstrations that followed Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in June 2009, events Tehran described as anti-government riots stirred up by foreign enemies.
While Cameron has called the burning and looting in Britain “criminality, pure and simple,” Ahmadinejad portrayed the events as peaceful protests brutally repressed by police.
“What kind of a treatment is this for the people who run out of patience because of poverty and discrimination? ... I advise them to correct their savage behaviour because this kind of savage treatment of people is absolutely not acceptable.”
A member of Iran’s parliament, Hossein Ebrahimi, told the semi-official Fars news agency on Tuesday that Britain should allow a delegation of human rights monitors to investigate the situation in its troubled cities.
In Iran’s ally Syria, where Britain’s foreign ministry has said President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy by killing demonstrators, state-run television repeatedly showed footage of a policeman chasing and knocking a man down.
A breaking news caption read: “Cameron: ‘We face a problem confronting the gangs in Britain.’”
Syrian authorities say they are combating armed “terrorist groups,” blaming them for the deaths of 500 soldiers and police and saying they are also responsible for the civilian deaths. Rights groups say 1,600 people have been killed in the crackdown.
In Libya, where Britain is involved in a military campaign against Gaddafi after his forces turned on an anti-government movement earlier this year, a government spokesman said Cameron should step down.
“Cameron has lost his legitimacy and must go... after the massive popular protests that reject him and his government, especially after the violent police repression unleashed by his government against peaceful protesters... to force the British people to accept a government it rejects,” Khalid Ka’im, a foreign ministry spokesman, told the official Jana new agency.
“The international community (should) not stand with arms folded in the face of this gross aggression against the rights of the British people, who are demanding their right to rule their country,” he was quoted as saying.
Reporting by Mitra Amiri in Tehran, Dominic Evans in Beirut, Souhail Karam in Rabat,; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Gareth Jones