French court overturns police ban on Iran opposition demo
An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Friday that it would hold a demonstration in central Paris at the weekend after a French court overturned a police ban on the event.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the de facto political wing of the People's Mujahedin (MEK) group outlawed by Tehran, said it would hold the protest on Saturday on Place Vauban in central Paris.
Paris police had angered the group last week by saying the rally had been banned because of the risk of tensions with other Iranian factions and the danger of an attack.
But the Paris administrative court ruled the police ban was "a serious and manifestly illegal attack on the freedom to demonstrate".
The court said it had taken note in particular of the commitment of the organisers to make a significant contribution to ensuring security through a private company.
The demonstration on Saturday will come with French police already stretched by the nationwide rioting in the wake of the killing of a teen by an officer that saw hundreds arrested overnight Thursday to Friday.
The NCRI had previously accused France of caving in to alleged pressure from the Iranian authorities as Paris seeks to keep diplomacy with Tehran going in search of a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The NCRI said the court ruling was "a heavy blow to the clerical regime and the policy of appeasement".
It said the ban on the demonstration had wasted time and created problems but "despite all the disruptions, the big demonstration of Iranians will be held on Saturday afternoon".
The group had been hoping in the rally to use the momentum created by protests against the clerical leadership inside Iran that erupted in September after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress rules for women.
The protests inside Iran have abated, but continue sporadically.
The MEK regards itself as the most significant Iranian opposition group outside the country.
A controversial organisation regarded as a cult by detractors, it is far from having universal support among the Iranian diaspora. But it does enjoy the support of several high-profile former US and European officials.
Authorities in 2018 foiled an attack against a major NCRI rally outside Paris. An Iranian diplomat was convicted of terror offences by a Belgian court over the thwarted attempt, but was last month swapped for a Belgian aid worker held by Tehran.