The hardline Iranian governor has been slammed by opposition party activists for slapping a woman on the face during a public speech in which he praised the country’s supreme leader as the “poet of a nation”.
Nasrallah Qanbar’s latest insult to women comes weeks after demonstrators in Tehran and other cities held photos of women who say they have been raped and sexually harassed, pointing to a state crackdown that they said fails to prosecute perpetrators.
The female protester, an “Obama lover”, was seen on state television kissing a man’s hand. Later footage appeared to show Qanbar slapping her in the face. Footage also appeared to show Qanbar’s son slap her in the face.
Opposition members of parliament on Monday condemned Qanbar for what they called an “ill-advised” and “irresponsible” speech, adding that his wife and daughter would be ejected from the parliament.
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The video surfaced after the director Reza Dormishian warned Iranian citizens not to wear lipstick in a direct dig at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whom critics accuse of approving a wave of non-compliant dresses and makeup, many coming in off the streets in suburban Tehran where women cover up.
Rouhani was last week seen at a public event in which he resisted pressure for a youth festival to shut down, saying it could not be stopped by a handful of people.
The video clip on Tuesday circulated quickly, prompting abuse and jokes on Twitter, where an online petition seeking reform on Iran’s dress code has already gathered more than 40,000 signatures.
“The position of Gov. Qanbar is not only contemptible and an insult to women and the people, it is also dangerous for women,” tweeted Khatami, a former president.
In a separate video, which also appeared on social media, Qanbar is seen talking at a large outdoor rally marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The transcript says he “liked the word poetry and admired the exalted presence of Ayatollah Khomeini” – a reference to the 1979 Islamic revolution that brought the current clerical leaders to power.
The translation of the transcript appeared to fail to indicate that Qanbar had used a specific word when he was clearly referring to Khomeini.
Qanbar was backed by his government, which said his exact words would be made public once the “gossip” of “reactionaries” and “extremists” are put to rest.
“We do not accept the relative role of criticism and criticism of officials in the media, and the same treatment,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We are not the kind of officials to respond to such misinterpretations of his speech.”
The clip circulating online Monday afternoon is two months after another viral video appeared to show Qanbar berating a female student in the role of state official – which is barred under Iranian law.
To the clear alarm of the crowd, Qanbar told the student to “pass a lie, a brainwash on why she had such an idea”.