A social media campaign has turned the tables on ultra-conservative Iranian MP Hosseinian. He claimed to have footage showing scandalous goings-on at an all-female party hosted by the Iranian First Lady… and social media users joked that he must have gone undercover as a woman to get the footage. Photo published on Twitter.
Last Saturday, the Iranian First Lady
, wife of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, threw a party to mark Women’s Day, celebrated on the birthday of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima. Ultra-conservative outcry at this so-called “lavish ball” has sparked many spoof videos from bloggers and Rohani supporters.
The president, a political moderate who has engaged in talks with Western powers over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme, has been criticised by the country’s ultra-conservatives for being too open towards the West. Now, his critics are turning on his wife, Sahebeh Arabi, alleging that she threw a “Western-style” party
in which women did not act in accordance with Iran’s strict state interpretation of Islam.
Arabi allegedly hosted this exclusive, all-female party in Sadabad Palace, home of the deposed Mohammad Reza Shah. The guest list was a who’s who of the Tehran elite, including female politicians, the wives of ministers and ambassadors and even several actresses.
Upon hearing about the festivities, Iranian ultra-conservatives responded with outrage, criticising the government for excess during a difficult economic time.
But they were most angered by allegations of immorality at the party, especially because it happened on the day celebrating Fatima, who is seen as a pillar of virtue and Islamic living. Ultra-conservative critics claimed that the party involved unseemly activities such as dancing
and a fashion show displaying “un-Islamic” fashions
. A group of women held a protest outside of Rohani’s office on Thursday.
Women gathered Thursday outside of Iranian President Rohani's office to protest his wife's supposedly irreverent party, which took place over the weekend. Photo by FARS news agency.
Conservatively dressed women protested allegations of the Iranian First Lady's risqué party. Photo by FARS news agency.
Hamid Rasaei, an ultra-conservative MP, asked the government to publish the video of party so he and other critics could check if it adhered to religious codes.
Another hardliner MP, Hosseinian, claimed to have his own video and threatened to publish it, a claim refuted by guests who said that all cameras and mobile phones were confiscated at the door. Social media users immediately took to the net to wonder about how Hosseinian managed to get footage of an all-female party. Photoshopped pictures of him disguised as a woman began to circulate.
Social media users joked that ultra-conservative MP Hosseinian had infiltrated the party himself to get the footage. Speculating on his disguise, they photoshopped his head onto this picture of a woman wearing a chador. In reality, ultra-conservative women would cover their faces. Original photo from Ebra design.
The president’s office slammed allegations in an official statement
: "It is most shocking and regrettable that even a pure innocent gathering cannot escape an orchestrated chorus of gossip, slander and politically motivated lies filling the air."
They also responded to rumours that the party was supposedly Western-style: "All Islamic proscriptions were observed in this event ... women turned out in traditional folk dress ... only a few little girls capered and rejoiced."
This scandal, which highlights the tension between the president and ultra-conservatives, has provoked lots of humour on social media including parodies of the ultra-conservatives’ call for a video of the party.
This spoof video of the party was posted by Persian blogger and journalist Farvartish Rezvanieh.