The Swedish delegation’s visit to Iran, obediently adorning headscarves, was reported by different media outlets and received attention from various Human rights organizations. Rightly so. Although, the full scope of the significance of this affair has not been emphasized enough.
The visuals of the Swedish delegation adorning scarves (see for instance unwatch and bbc) were surprising, in light of the fact that the current Swedish government portrays itself as “the world’s first feminist government” (see bbc) committed to promoting a “gender equality perspective”. While they presume to be defenders of women’s rights, they clearly trampled on women’s rights, just as Iran trampled on the US flag this week (see bigstory). While Iran defiantly upholds its offensive behavior, as could be seen clearly in the anti-American mass protests marking the 38th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, drawing from a deep anti-western values mindset, the Swedish delegation folded their principles and their values, for potential commercial gains.
The official site of the Swedish government states “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim of Swedish foreign policy”. It is also obligated by international law.
UNWatch termed the Swedish act “walk of shame“, while Masih Alinejad, the founder of the popular MyStealthyFreedom movement, fighting courageously for freedom in Iran, accused the Swedes of hypocrisy, stating daringly “the European female politicians are hypocrites”. The leader of the Swedish liberal party, as reported in aftonbladet, also criticized the Swedish government highlighting the fact that the veil is a symbol of female oppression and that they should demanded to be exempt.
The most revealing aspect was the attempted justification, voiced by the Swedish trade minister Anne Lindt, responding to the criticism in an interview to expressen saying “but it is law in Iran that women must wear the veil, one can hardly come here and break the laws”. She’s extremely concerned about breaking Iranian law, while disregarding international law. She clearly did not read the UN reports like iranhrdc on ongoing gender discrimination in Iran. She’s obviously not as courageous as the US chess champion who boycotted the tournament in Iran so as not to support_women’s_oppression_in_Iran. She did not even contemplate the alternative – not visiting Iran at all.
But it is not just a matter of whether to wear a scarf or not. It is the matter of legitimacy endowed upon a country like Iran, which openly and defiantly violates women’s rights and Human Rights. It is a matter of standardizing human rights and enforcing them. It is a matter of values – whether the west casts aside its values and norms for Iran, or demands of Iran to reform its human rights violations, as a condition for normalization with the west.
Unfortunately, the Swedes have folded their values for momentary financial gains. Thus, forsaking the many courageous women who try to instill more freedom for their gender and a better future in Iran.