Would you believe it? Iran calls British police 'violent and inhumane' in handling of student protests

Iran inspired international incredulity today by calling British police 'violent and inhumane' over their handing of the student protests in London.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the British ambassador to Tehran to protest against the supposed brutality.

According to the semi-official Fars news agency, 'The violent and inhumane handling by British police of peaceful student demonstrations and also the ambassador's interference in Iran's state matters were the reasons for his summoning by the ministry.'

Violent and inhumane? Police face down protesters in Parliament Square

Outnumbered: A policeman is surrounded by students during the clashes

British Ambassador Simon Gass accused Iranian authorities of depriving the nation of 'their fundamental freedoms' on the embassy's website on December 9.

Iran has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks over its detention of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

Its claim comes on the same day that a coalition of international celebrities including Robert De Niro, and Sting united to publish an open letter to Iran calling for the release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Ms Ashtiani, 43, was convicted in 2006 of having an 'illicit relationship' with two men following the murder of her husband in 2005 and was sentenced at that time to 99 lashes.

She has spent the subsequent five years in in prison and, according to the letter, has received the 99 lashes.

The document calls on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release her along with her son and lawyer, who are also imprisoned.

Campaign: A coalition of celebrities has called on President Ahmadinejad to release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is sentenced to death

Her sentence of death by stoning was suspended earlier this year but she still faces possible execution by hanging for complicity in the murder of her husband.

The man who was convicted for the murder is now free.

The European Union has called her sentence 'barbaric', the Vatican pleaded for clemency and Brazil, which has tried to intervene in Iran's stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme, has offered Ms Ashtiani asylum.

However, there is a more direct comparison to be made between the handling of the student protests in London and police behaviour in Iran.

In June 2009 there were open protests in the streets of Tehran following the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election opposition politicians said was rigged. 

Comparision: An Iranian anti-riot officer raises his baton to disperse protestors at an opposition rally at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery

Protestors who wore green ribbons to show their dissidence were eventually attacked by police and, though the number of deaths is debated, between  26 (the official state figure) and 69 people were killed.

Among them was 26-year-old female protester Neda Soltan, who was shot dead and became a symbol for the resistance.

Thousands more were arrested during widespread civil unrest after the vote, among them senior moderate politicians, activists, lawyers and journalists.

Pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, who came fourth in the vote, said later that imprisoned protesters were raped in jail and that some were killed under torture.

There was even a parliamentary committee investigation into a rumoured 'mass burial' at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery on July 12 and 15 of protesters killed in the disturbances.