Sweden has just announced that it will introduce a U.N. resolution on Iran’s human rights record—at the same time as its leaders are being ridiculed worldwide for selling out Iranian women’s rights in their visit this week to Tehran.
In a statement that went viral on Twitter and Facebook, UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights NGO in Geneva, slammed Sweden’s self-declared “first feminist government in the world” for having sacrificed its principles and betrayed the rights of Iranian women as trade minister Ann Linde and other female members walked before Iranian President Rouhani on Saturday wearing Hijabs, Chadors, and long coats indoors, all in deference to Iran’s oppressive and unjust forced Hijab law — despite Stockholm’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.”
In doing so, Sweden’s female leaders ignored the recent appeal by Iranian women’s right activist Masih Alinejad who urged Europeans female politicians “to stand for their own dignity” and to refuse to kowtow to the compulsory Hijab while visiting Iran.
Alinrejad created a Facebook page for Iranian women to resist the law and show their hair as an act of resistance, which now numbers 1 million followers.
“European female politicians are hypocrites,” says Alinejad. “They 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.”
The scene in Tehran on Saturday was also a sharp contrast to Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin’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 need strong leadership for women’s rights.”
There was another stark contrast: in the same week as the Swedes wore their Hijabs, Tehran hosted the world competition in women’s chess, a number of young female chess champions from around the world gave up their chance to win a world prize because they refused to submit to the required Hijab and Iran’s discrimination against women.
Trade minister Linde, who signed multiple agreements with Iranian ministers while wearing a veil, “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.
“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 government has now come under sharp criticism from centrist and left-wing Swedish lawmakers, who said the ministers should not have deferred to “gender apartheid.”
“They go to my country,” said Aliinejad recently in the European Parliament, “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 wearing hijab, and saying this is a ‘cultural issue’—which is wrong.”
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 15, 2017
Trade Minister Ann Linde, Who Oversees “Feminist Foreign Policy, Adds Black Cloak
Trade minister Ann Linde, one of three Swedish ministers who oversees the country’s “feminist foreign policy,” decided voluntarily to go covered in a long black coat, akin to the Chador, in addition to covering her hair with the compulsory Hijab. She is seen below meeting President Rouhani, and then signing one of multiple agreements with representatives of the theocratic regime.
— Isabella Lövin (@IsabellaLovin) February 3, 2017
Writing in the Guardian, Deputy prime minister Lövin contrasted Swedish policy with that of President Donald Trump, saying that the world “needs strong leadership for women’s rights” and “Sweden will have an increasingly important role to play in this.” She added that “many countries could learn an important lesson from this.”
Her viral tweet above was meant to emphasize her government’s focus on women’s rights, as opposed to Trump.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 12, 2017