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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 November, 2003, 15:35 GMT
Riot at 'woman-tigress hanging'
A riot broke out after police tried to disperse a crowd gathered to watch the rumoured hanging of a "woman-tigress", Iran's Jomhuri-Eslami paper reports.

Some 50 people were arrested after the would-be spectators turned on police who tried to disperse them in the city of Qom, said the hardline daily.

It was rumoured a woman had "insulted religious values" during Ramadan.

According to local folklore, anyone who commits such a crime risks having their head turned into that of an animal.

A local journalist told French news agency AFP that rumours had circulated of a woman insulting Islamic values during the fasting month.

Divine punishment

Her head had been turned into that of a ferocious female tiger as divine punishment, it was rumoured.

"Drawings of the woman with the head of a tigress were even distributed in the city, especially in schools," said the journalist, who asked not to be named.

"The rumour was that she was to be hanged."

A large crowd turned up in a square in the city to watch the hanging - only to be met by police attempting to convince them the rumour was false.

In the ensuing violence, several windows of surrounding buildings were smashed, said the newspaper.


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