August 11, 2017
By Potkin Azarmehr
Rouhani’s second term in office officially began last Thursday when the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei endorsed his electoral votes during a ceremony known as Tanfeez. According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, the Supreme Leader or the Absolute Ruler and Custodian of the Islamic Jurisprudence, must endorse the electoral vote before the vetted presidential candidate who got the most votes, can legally start his term in office.
The Supreme Leader can decide that the electorate, regarded as the inferiors, have made a mistake and annul the votes altogether. As expected however, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, endorsed Rouhani to start his second term in office in front of an audience of top Iranian officials who blessed his endorsement with chants of “Death to America, Death to England, Death to Israel and Death to all the enemies of the Absolute Rule by the Custodian of the Islamic Jurisprudence”.
The inauguration ceremony comes next after the endorsement ceremony. Rouhani was inaugurated on Saturday by swearing the oath of presidency in front of the head of the judiciary, the Majlis Deputies and the foreign guests. There were no guests from America but the chants of ‘Death to England’ during the endorsement ceremony did not discourage a three man delegation from England to attend the inauguration. The Chairman of the Britain-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group Richard Bacon, UK Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt and Lord LaMont represented the UK during the inauguration of a president who was earlier endorsed by chants of “Death to England”.
The star of the show, however, was none other than the current High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Majlis deputies were so excited by seeing her, they rushed towards her, almost falling over each other to take selfies with her.
Amongst those wishing to take a selfie with this European female wearing a loose green and white checked headscarf, was Alireza Rahimi. There is a well known archive footage of Alireza Rahimi during the Iran-Iraq war, when he was a teenage prisoner of war who recited a poem in Persian that told the Indian female reporter interviewing the teenage prisoners, about the virtues of Hejab to remind her that she should cover all her hair when she talked to members of the opposite sex, even if they were only teenage boys. Now many years later, Rahimi was unperturbed about Mogherini fully covering her hair inside the Islamic Consultative Assembly and all he wanted was a selfie with her.
The unprofessional behaviour “unworthy of MPs” who had surrounded Mogherini to take selfies with her, soon drew harsh criticism on Iran’s vibrant social media and it was followed by the official Iranian media too.
The semi-official Fars News Agency described the rush by the deputies for photos with Federica Mogherini, as “selfie of shame”. Some deputies publicly apologised for their behaviour afterwards to save themselves some scrap of dignity but some like Abolfazl Hasan-Beigi, the deputy chairman of the Majlis National Security Commission tried to present a different narrative by saying “I was in the second row, one deputy told her ‘We hope one day, you too, will chant Death to America, the MPs wanted to talk to her about the JCPOA agreement, they told her Iran is strong and we expect Europe to abode by the nuclear agreement, few of the MPs including myself chanted ‘Death to America, Hail Europe’ to her. She thanked us and said Europe is committed to the nuclear agreement and emphasised that Iran is a great and magnificent country”.
Mogherini was also harshly criticised by Iran’s civil activists for kowtowing to the regime and appeasing them by abiding to the mandatory headscarf, a forced imposition many Iranian women and men are fighting against, but see no support or solidarity from the European feminists for their contention. To many Iranians, Federica Mogherini’s presence at the inauguration ceremony was Europe’s endorsement of the Islamic Republic.