By Hooman Askary, RFE/RL
A group of animal-rights activists protested on April 17 in the city of Shiraz, the capital of Iran's Fars Province, against animal cruelty and abuse of stray dogs.
The rare protest, in front of the building of the provincial department of environmental protection, was organized after a disturbing video emerged on social media showing four men giving stray dogs what appeared to be lethal injections.
Some activists inside Iran claimed the injections contained "acid." Many users on social media expressed outrage over what they described as excruciating whines and cries the dogs made in the moments before their graphic deaths.
The men claimed they were getting paid for killing stray dogs. Less than $5 for each dead dog, they said.
A photo shared on social media of the apparent application of lethal injections to stray dogs.
Activists claimed the men were working for Shiraz city contractors.
According to state news agency IRNA, the protesters demanded punishment for the dog killers. Some of them reportedly said stray dogs should be killed painlessly and under the supervision of veterinarians, while other called for the creation of shelters for such dogs.
In photos of the protests, activists are seen holding signs against animal cruelty.
“Teaching of religion: compassion toward animals," one sign reads.
Another activist is seen holding a hand-written sign that reads: "Animals are God's creatures like us, lest we take the lives of God's creatures."
In one of the most-circulated photos, half a dozen young girls are holding a slogan adorned with small paw prints: "Be the voice of the voiceless."
A number of Iranian celebrities also protested in cyberspace. They shared messages on Facebook and Twitter -- both filtered by Iranian authorities -- and the partly filtered sharing site Instagram.
On his official Facebook page, cinema star Bahram Radan voices anger at the killing of dogs. Addressing the alleged dog killers, Radan wrote sardonically: "Do not pay attention to their whines and yelps, inject the poison proudly into their spines, my friend! Teach your child to tell his friends about his father's job at school, that his dad kills dogs for a living; he kills dogs with acid. But only know that although you created abominating moments with that horrendous clip for us all, we have no complaints. For my God is the same as yours and those dogs' you killed. We ask of Him to judge you Himself."
Hosein-Ali Ebrahimi-Karnami, head of Fars Province Department of Environmental Protection, promised an investigation into the footage. At the same time, Qasem Akbari, a district mayor in the city of Shiraz, denied any involvement by the municipality in the process.
It appears that the protests are far from over, and activists were already asking for another gathering on April 18, this time in front of Shiraz's administrative offices.
In another recent case of apparent dog abuse, a clip of a man dragging a dead dog behind his car led to protests among Iranian netizens. Some reports suggested that the man in that case was arrested.
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