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Iranian Lawmaker Says Parliament Is No Place For Women, Donkeys

Women wait in line to cast their votes in parliamentary elections in Tehran on February 26.

A hard-line Iranian lawmaker has come under fire for declaring that women should not be allowed to serve in parliament.

"The parliament is not a place for women, it's a place for men," lawmaker Nader Ghazipur said in a video posted online in which he appears to suggest that women can be abused and places women in the same category as "donkeys," a term used to insult a person's intelligence.

"We didn't easily win control over the country to send every fox, kid, and donkey there. The parliament is not a place for donkeys," he said.

Ghazipour, 57, was reelected to Iran's parliament last week in his hometown of Orumiyeh in West Azerbaijan Province. He appears to have made the comments during a meeting at his campaign headquarters.

His comments come as a record number of women -- as many as 20 -- are expected to gain seats in the parliament following the February 26 poll.

The YouTube video of Ghazipur's controversial and crude remarks was posted recently, sparking both online and offline criticism, as well as calls for him to be barred from office.

Zahra Nejadbahram, the head of the Information Council of the government's office for women's and family affairs, was quoted by Iranian news sites as saying that Ghazipur should be disqualified.

"When his thinking [allows] him to insult half of the country's population, he should expect a reaction, and the reaction should be the rejection of his [credentials]," Nejadbahram said on March 2.

The Orumiyeh branch of a women's group, the Islamic Society of Revolutionary Women, said Ghazipur should be disqualified for his "obvious and blatant disrespect of women."

Criticism also came from Orumiyeh's Friday Prayers leader, Mehdi Ghoreishi, who did not name Ghazipur but said that "insults and vulgarity" are "not worthy of an Islamic society."

"We should not allow rudeness and vulgarity to become institutionalized in our city," the cleric was quoted by domestic media as saying.

On social media, some called on the Guardians Council, which approved Ghazipur to run in last week's elections, to disqualify him. Others likened him to former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who was known for his use of crude and undiplomatic language.

In an Instagram post, Ghazipur apologized to the women of Orumiyeh while calling himself a "servant and soldier" of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"I apologized for the comments that hurt the feelings of the ladies of Orumiyeh because I wasn't talking about them," he wrote.

"Those who spied [on me] and recorded and published the video should doubt themselves, because by attempting to hurt Ghazipur, they're putting people's votes under question," he wrote, adding that he will not change his "stances."

Ghazipur is a member of the parliament's Mine and Industry Commission. His biography says he fought during the 1980-88 war with Iraq to defend "his country and Islamic values."

He also worked as Khamenei's campaign manager in 1981 and 1985, according to his biography posted on the website of the parliament's research center.

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL focusing on Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is the author of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.