A family which have travelled the world in a van emblazoned with “Iran is great” to spread positivity about the nation’s culture and history found themselves in the middle of a full-scale security alert when they pulled up outside London’s Science Museum.
Counter terror police descended on the west London museum when they were alerted to a “suspicious vehicle”. Visitors and staff were evacuated from the building, and surrounding roads were closed for two hours as officers investigated, BBC News reported.
Images from the incident show members of the emergency services gathered at the scene, including two fire engines, ambulances and police cars, as officers cordon off the street.
A lorry with the words Iran Is Great parks on Exhibition Road. Police react by blocking off the street. pic.twitter.com/eaZJ2bIqV7— Brendan Cormier (@BrendanCormier) August 3, 2015
We have evacuated the Museum as a precaution and will have an update to share soon.— Science Museum (@sciencemuseum) August 3, 2015
@souxiewouxie Hello, we evacuated the museum on the advice of the police. We hope to welcome you again soon, for a less eventful visit!— Science Museum (@sciencemuseum) August 4, 2015
The scene unfolded as husband and wife Cristian and Audrey Ivan were showing their children around the Natural History Museum next door.
Mr Ivan, 42, from Romania, told the BBC that they missed Science Museum announcements about the van because they weren't in the building at the time.
The couple left to find their van’s windows had been smashed, and later learned it had been police officers. He added that he didn’t realise he couldn’t park at the spot, but that he could have been given a ticket or clamped instead.
Mr Ivan told the BBC that he understands that the police had to protect other people, but they could have explained why they smashed his windows.
Mr Ivan launched the campaign when the couple visited the country and were taken by its culture.
The couple now travel the world, with their home-schooled children, to improve Iran’s image abroad, which has been marred by the nation’s controversial politics.
Setting off in April 2014, the couple give talks and presentations about Iran’s rich culture and civilization by talking about the countries culture, history and tourism, according to their website.
The Ivans stress their project does not deal with political or religious matters “whatsoever”, and have rejected funding from Iran’s tourism board as they disagree its government.
In pictures: Iran
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the anti-Muslim hate crime reporting service Tell MAMA, told The Times that the police response was “over the top”.
“Someone has obviously thought that Iran equates to terrorism and this in itself is telling, when all the van did was to park off Exhibition Road.
“You would assume that if it was a threat, European states would have taken action before.”Reuse content