Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Iran MPs under fire for ‘embarrassing’ selfies with Mogherini

Iran MPs under fire for ‘embarrassing’ selfies with Mogherini

European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attends a swearing-in ceremony for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani for a further term, at the parliament in TehranImage copyright

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One social media user said the MPs had “embarrassed the nation”

Members of the Iranian parliament have found themselves under fire for “strange” behaviour involving the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini.

She was in Iran for President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration on Saturday when she found herself the centre of attention on the parliament floor.

Photos showed Ms Mogherini surrounded by a number of male MPs, taking photos.

Many social media users criticised the MPs, ridiculing them or labelling their actions “humiliating”.

The Fars news agency posted a photo which many social media users felt showed Ms Mogherini unimpressed – and labelled the MPs’ behaviour “strange”.

Skip Twitter post by @FarsNews_Agency

📸 سلفی عجیب نماینده مجلس با #موگرینی !

— خبرگزاری فارس (@FarsNews_Agency) August 5, 2017

End of Twitter post by @FarsNews_Agency

One MP, Alireza Salimi, called the behaviour “self-surrender to the West”, and said that a committee on the conduct of members may probe the incident – if other MPs complain that the selfies caused “contempt” for parliament.

The EU has issued a number of sanctions against Iran over human rights and the country’s nuclear programme.

But while Mr Salimi felt the behaviour signalled subservience towards a top Western official, many on social media ridiculed the image of men crowding Ms Mogherini.

One popular tweet compared the image to a scene from the move Malena, where crowds of men rush to light actress Monica Belluci’s cigarette.

Skip Twitter post by @weblogz

End of Twitter post by @weblogz

Another made the same point using of an iconic image from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Skip Twitter post by @SHAH_DULABI

لامصب، گفتم اینو من یه جایی قبلاً دیده بودم ها …#سفیدبرفی #سلفی #مجلس #موگرینی #تحلیف

— شاه دولابی (@SHAH_DULABI) August 6, 2017

End of Twitter post by @SHAH_DULABI

Ahmad Mazani, one of the MPs in the controversial pictures, tweeted that lawmakers had been banned “from interacting with special guests” during the ceremony – explaining the rush to crowd Ms Mogherini at its conclusion.

But Twitter users remained critical, with one replying that the MPs had “embarrassed the nation”.

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Ms Mogherini posed for photos and made no comment about the social media drama

Hesam Ashena, the cultural adviser to the president, said: “This is a cultural rather than a political problem. Every one of those esteemed MPs in that selfie should be interviewed seriously.”

Sadegh Kharrazi, an adviser to reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, suggested that all Iranian MPs undergo “a training course on codes of conduct and universal moral values”.

Ms Mogherini – who has built closer ties between the EU and Iran since he appointment – released a statement about the visit to Iran, but made no comment about the related controversy.

BBC Monitoring contributed to this report.