Politicians being barred from office for misconduct is unfortunately not new, but Iranian politicians Minoo Khaleghi, who won a seat in the city of Isfahan in February, transgressed by allegedly allowing a picture to be taken of her without a head scarf. While Khaleghi insists the photos are fake, Dispute Settlement Committee of Branches ruled that she cannot be sworn into office for violating Islamic values. A religious body previously made clear that they would not allow voters to elect Khaleghi.
The photos were reportedly taken in Europe and China without a head covering. This is not the first time that Khaleghi has been barred by Islamic hardliners. Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of Islamic clerics and jurists, previously nullified Khaleghi’s 193,399 votes for unspecified reasons.
Khaleghi ran for the reformist List of Hope coalition and won the third-largest share of votes in Isfahan. She insisted that the charges were trumped up and said “I am a Muslim woman, adhering to the principles of Islam.” She is a lawyer who specializes in public and communications law. She has also worked as a journalist in local media and an activist in local non-governmental organizations with a focus on women’s rights and environmentalism.
Her courage is self-evident and she is an inspiration to not just women but civil libertarians for fighting such institutionalized sexism and authoritarianism. Hopefully, all of those voters who sought her election will be sufficiently angry to redouble their support for reformers.