Iran’s foreign minister cancels India visit over video clip of women’s protest
Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was expected to join his counterparts from several countries to participate in the Raisina Dialogue to be held in Delhi during March 2-4
NEW DELHI: Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called off a visit to India, apparently because a video promoting a government-backed geopolitics conference featured a brief clip of protesting Iranian women along with images of President Ebrahim Raisi, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
No official announcement had been made by India or Iran about Amir-Abdollahian’s planned visit to participate in the Raisina Dialogue, an annual conference hosted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the external affairs ministry. However, Amir-Abdollahian was expected to join his counterparts from several countries for the event in New Delhi during March 2-4.
The promotional video for Raisina Dialogue was posted online by ORF several weeks ago. The one-minute-50-second video, which includes images of several world leaders and global events such as the Ukraine war, features less than two seconds of footage of Iranian women cutting their hair during the protests.
The Iranian embassy took up the matter with the Indian side and asked for this footage to be deleted from the video, the people cited above said. When this didn’t happen, the Iranian side called off the foreign minister’s visit, the people added.
There was no word from Indian officials on the development. Calls and messages to several officials of the Iranian embassy elicited no response.
During his first visit to India in June last year, Amir-Abdollahian raised with his Indian interlocutors the controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammed by two former BJP spokespersons. He had then spoken about the “negative atmosphere” created by the remarks of some people, though the Iranian foreign ministry subsequently scrubbed some of his remarks from a readout on its website.
The Indian government has so far maintained a studied silence on nationwide protests rocking Iran following the death last September of Masha Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman detained by the morality police for violating the country’s dress code by not wearing appropriate head covering.
India was also among 16 countries that abstained when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted in November last year to establish an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran during the protests over Amini’s death.
Though India completely stopped buying Iranian oil in mid-2019 following threats of US secondary sanctions, the two sides are collaborating in the development of the strategic Chabahar port, for which the Indian government allocated ₹100 crores in the 2023-24 budget.
Iran, which was earlier among the top three suppliers of crude to India, has pushed the Indian side to resume oil imports and also to speed up efforts to develop Chabahar, including the construction of a new railway line to connect to the regional rail network.