Newspaper article International New York Times

Visit by E.U. Officials Roils Iranians ; Dutch Legislator Accused of Violating Islamic Law Because of Her Attire

Newspaper article International New York Times

Visit by E.U. Officials Roils Iranians ; Dutch Legislator Accused of Violating Islamic Law Because of Her Attire

Article excerpt

Members of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee set off a firestorm of criticism for wearing what was deemed inappropriate attire.

The woman wore form-fitting clothes and a scarf wrapped around her head that revealed a few of her blond tresses. The men carried backpacks to official meetings. Nothing all that unusual in most places, but enough to touch off a firestorm of criticism this weekend from Iranian lawmakers, who accused their visitors of flouting Islamic law by, as one put it, wearing "extremely weird clothing."

Two worlds collided when the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament met with the head of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, a top power broker whose idea of a wild outfit is wearing a blue vest under his dark suit in winter.

When a Dutch legislator, Marietje Schaake, entered the room, all eyes were on her Islamic dress, a self-chosen creation consisting of a pair of leggings and a tight coat with a zip-up front topped off with a blue head scarf, carefully draped on top of her head.

Iranian officials do not shake hands with women, so Ms. Schaake, a member of the liberal faction, can be seen in one photograph placing her hand on her chest as a gesture of respect for Mr. Larijani. He bows slightly in return.

In another, Ms. Schaake walks next to a Foreign Ministry official who is wearing the traditional black chador, covering everything but her face and hands.

That was too much for Iranian lawmakers. "It is as if she is wearing underwear," a prominent conservative, Mahdi Kouchakzadeh, wrote on his Instagram page, noting that Ms. Schaake's neck and ears were also not covered. He criticized Mr. Larijani, the conservative son of a prominent ayatollah, asking why he had allowed "human and Islamic rights to be violated in his presence."

A string of conservative websites joined the chorus, attacking the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is also leading the nuclear negotiations with world powers, for allowing the European "carnival" into the country. …

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