by WorldTribune Staff, February 13, 2017
Members of Sweden’s self-declared “first feminist government in the world” were blasted for wearing hijabs and long coats for a meeting on Feb. 11 in Teheran with President Hassan Rouhani.
In a statement that has gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights NGO in Geneva, expressed disappointment that the women “sacrificed their principles and betrayed the rights of Iranian women.”
“European female politicians are hypocrites,” said Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, who had urged Europeans female politicians “to stand for their own dignity” and to refuse to kowtow to the compulsory hijab while visiting Iran.
UN Watch reported that, as Trade Minister Ann Linde and other female members walked before Rouhani, they were “wearing hijabs, Chadors, and long coats, in deference to Iran’s oppressive and unjust modesty laws which make the hijab compulsory.”
Linde told the Aftonbladet newspaper that she was not willing to break Iranian law. She said she was required to wear a headscarf and the only other option would be to send an all-male delegation.
The bow to Iran was made despite the Swedish government’s promise to promote “a gender equality perspective” internationally, and to adopt a “feminist foreign policy” in which “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim,” UN Watch said.
Alinejad expressed outrage that female European officials “stand with French Muslim women and condemn the burkini ban — because they think compulsion is bad — but when it happens to Iran, they just care about money.”
In a recent appearance before European Parliament, Alinejad said: “They go to my country and they ignore millions of those women who send their photos to me and put themselves in danger to be heard. And [the European politicians] keep their smile, and wear the hijab, and say this is a ‘cultural issue’ — which is wrong.”
Alinejad created a Facebook page for Iranian women to resist the modesty law and show their hair as an act of resistance. The page now numbers 1 million followers.
Linde, who signed multiple agreements with Iranian ministers while wearing the hijab, “sees no conflict” between her government’s human rights policy and “signing trade deals with an oppressive dictatorship that tortures prisoners, persecutes gays, and is a leading executioner of minors,” UN Watch said.
“If Sweden really cares about human rights, they should not be empowering a regime that brutalizes its own citizens while carrying out genocide in Syria; and if they care about women’s rights, then the female ministers never should have gone to misogynistic Iran in the first place,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
The scene in Teheran on Feb. 11 was also a sharp contrast to Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin’s feminist stance against U.S. President Donald Trump, in a viral tweet and then in a Guardian op-ed last week, in which she wrote that “the world needs strong leadership for women’s rights.”