UPDATE 1400 GMT: Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was detained for several hours during a protest outside the Interior Ministry over the recent acid attacks against women, according to her husband Reza Khandan.

The lawyer was among a group taken away in vans and held for questioning, as images of their protest were reviewed. They were then released.

Sotoudeh subsequently spoke to BBC Persian about the incident.

Sotoudeh was imprisoned for more than three years for her work. She was released in September 2013.

Earlier this week, her license to practice law was suspended for three years.

On Thursday, Iranian Student News Agency photographer Arya Jafari was arrested by Revolutionary Guards after selling photos of the acid attack protests in Isfahan to AFP.

Mehr News Agency removed its photo coverage of the demonstrations, without explanation, while Fars News Agency said reports on the protests were “in line with foreign media.”

A notable shift in focus in Friday Prayers across Iran on Friday — rather than denouncing the West and “Takfiri terrorists” or commenting on the nuclear talks, clerics condemned the acid attacks on women that have sparked mass public protests.

The series of attacks in Isfahan on women, disfiguring and blinding some of them, brought thousands onto the streets on Wednesday. In Isfahan, crowds called for the dismissal of the Friday Prayer leader and the Chief Prosecutor, and demonstrators in front of the judiciary in Tehran blamed a new Parliamentary bill which protects those who challenge “un-Islamic” behavior and fashion.

See Iran Special: A New Wave of Protests, Spurred by Acid Attacks on Women

In the Tehran Friday Prayer, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani called for “the maximum penalty” over the “ugly” and “inhumane” assaults. In Qom, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Saeedi explained, “Throwing acid in the faces of people is absolutely forbidden and punishable. These types of violent acts are extremely immoral and should be discouraged by everyone.”

The Government showed its concern with the visit of Shahindokht Molaverdi, the Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, to one of the victims in a Tehran hospital.


Still, there was no sign of the withdrawal of the new legislation protecting the public enforcers of proper dress and behavior, despite President Rouhani’s criticism on Wednesday of those “taking the moral high ground and acting as guardians”.

Instead, the Shiraz Prayer Leader, Ayatollah Asadollah Emani said, “We should be careful and vigilant in regards to these [Western] cultural issues creeping into our society which seek to penetrate our mindset, and create cultural liberalism in our society.”

And the Mashhad Prayer Leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Farzaneh, warned “Remaining indifferent in regards to the sedition and immoral behavior is forbidden….as is trying to oppose or discredit the Supreme Leader.”

(Hat tip to Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani for translations)