Iranian police announced on Friday they arrested more than 250 people, including three foreigners, over promoting “satanism” west of the capital Tehran, state media reported.

“The Police Information Centre announced the identification, dismantling, and widespread arrest of members of the satanist network,” the IRNA state news agency reported, citing a police statement.

Police arrested “146 men and 115 women who were in an undesirable and obscene condition with emblems, signs, and symbols of satanism on their clothes, head, face, and hair”, the statement said.

“Three European citizens” were also arrested during the police operation in Shahryar City, west of Tehran, on Thursday night.

“Symbols of satanism, alcoholic beverages and psychoactive substances along with 73 vehicles were seized” during the raid, police added in the statement.

Raids on so-called “satanist” gatherings are not uncommon in the deeply conservative country, often targeting parties or concerts with alcohol consumption, which is largely banned in Iran.

In July 2009, police arrested three people in the northwestern province of Ardebil over “satan worship”.

In May of the same year, Iranian media said 104 “Satan-worshippers” were arrested in a raid on a concert in the southern city of Shiraz where people were purportedly drinking alcohol and “sucking blood”.

In 2007, police arrested 230 people in a raid on an illegal rock concert in a garden near Tehran. Authorities have in the past branded rock and heavy metal music concerts as satanist gatherings.

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