Hundreds of Iranians held separate rallies in Paris to protest Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to France.
Two demonstrations were held on Thursday and Friday, August 22-23, in the central areas of the French capital by the members of Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and royalists along with the secular republicans.
Both protests were organized ahead of the G7 summit, set to begin on Saturday night, August 24, in Biarritz, western France.
During the anti-Iran gathering by MKO, in Paris' Square du Trocadéro, the demonstrators chanted fiery slogans against the Iranian top diplomat.
"Kick out Zarif," "Zarif is a Terrorist, Expel him," read the banners held by the MKO members.
Furthermore, the Paris District 1 municipality installed a large banner on the city hall opposing Zarif's visit. The banner read, "Iran's Mullahs and it's Foreign Minister violate our principles. We do not welcome them."
Meanwhile, hundreds of other exiled Iranians held similar protest rallies steps away from Iran's embassy, near Trocadero square.
While accusing Zarif of being a "liar," the protesters demanded the unconditional and immediate release of hundreds of political and Human rights activists held behind bars in the clergy dominated Iran.
Iranian in Sweden also held protests against the visit of Iranian foreign minister. Many accuse Zarif of being an apologist for human and civil rights violations going on in Iran for decades.
However, Zarif, who is not a stranger to protest demonstrations, managed to talk with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday night, hoping to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the 2015 Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers from which the United States dropped out in 2018. He later described the talks as constructive.
One interesting twist was that Zarif released a photo of him and Macron, which opposition groups later identified as an old photo from 2017. Apparently, the French side did not publish any photos.
In the meantime, Macron met with world leaders and their representatives ahead of the Group of Seven summit which opens in the south-western French city of Biarritz on Saturday.
President Macron has personally invited renowned Iranian lawyer and human rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh, to participate in a G7 council for promoting human rights. Sotoudeh is currently serving a long prison sentence in Iran.
Last February, French President Emmanuel Macron named 35 attorneys, including prominent Iranian lawyer and civil rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, to give recommendations to the Group of Seven (G7) nations.
Sotoudeh's husband, who posted a copy of Macron's letter on his Facebook page, told the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), "Today [March 7] a legal representative from the French Embassy in Tehran gave me a letter from French President Emanuel Macron and the Group of Seven (G7)."
The letter was delivered to Khandan a day after it was disclosed that a Revolutionary Court in Tehran had convicted Sotoudeh on national security charges. "I am pleased to invite you to this initiative to advance real equality between women and men around the world," Macron wrote to Sotoudeh.
Sotoudeh's seat in the council in France will be vacant and adorned with a bouquet, while she is kept in Tehran's infamous prison, Evin.