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Iran’s foreign minister cancels India visit, upset over inclusion of Iran anti-Hijab protest visuals in Raisina Dialogue promo

Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was due to travel to India to attend the Raisina dialogue scheduled for March 3 and 4, but canceled it after organisers refused to remove visuals of anti-Hijab protests in Iran from the promo of the event

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the foreign minister of Iran, who was scheduled to visit India next month to attend the Raisina Dialogue, has cancelled his visit. The reason was visuals of anti-Hijab protests in Iran shown in a promotional video of the event.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was due to travel to India to attend the Raisina dialogue scheduled for March 3 and 4. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosts its signature think tank event.

A month ago, a promotional film for the Raisina Dialogue was released by the organisers, introducing the event’s 2023 iteration. Just under two minutes into the video, a two-second photo of Iranian ladies protesting by cutting their hair was shown. Next to that image, a picture of Iranian President Sayyid Ebrahim Raisolsadati, commonly known as Ebrahim Raisi, was also displayed.

This enraged Tehran and the Iranian embassy, who contacted the ORF and the MEA to express their displeasure with the footage and request that it be removed. But, the organizers refused to comply. The Iranian embassy took issue with the juxtaposition of the demonstrators and their president in the same frame.

Miffed by the refusal of the organisers to remove the visuals, the Iranian government has since notified the event’s organizers that the foreign minister will not be able to attend the Raisina Dialogue.

Iran was rocked by protests in September 2022 after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in police custody. Amini was detained on the allegation of disregarding the state’s rigorous clothing rule for women by improperly donning the head scarf. It has been alleged that she died due to torture in custody, after which a massive protest by women erupted, opposing the stringent hijab laws. But the protest died down after several weeks after the govt used excessive force to control it, where several protesters, including minors, were killed, and thousands were arrested.

Notably, New Delhi has kept silent about the protests since they started. In November of last year, India voted against a resolution that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed to establish a fact-finding mission into suspected state-authorized abuses of human rights against protesters in Iran.

India and Iran have a long history of diplomatic ups and downs, and because of Afghanistan in recent years, their connections have taken on a strategic significance. In response to the possibility of sanctions under the Trump administration, India ceased importing oil from Iran, and imports have not yet resumed at their pre-sanctions levels. Despite the fact that both countries are concerned about Afghanistan being ruled by the Taliban, India has been working on the Chabahar port project to facilitate connection to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

In the ORF video, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heard saying, “This isn’t an era of war,” in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Samarkand conference. Also, it includes a video of US President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and India’s Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

The G-20 Foreign Ministers’ conference on March 1 and 2 is likely to draw more than 20 foreign ministers. Several are anticipated to stay back and participate in the Raisina dialogue this year, because the event is scheduled just after the conference. Several foreign ministers who are not from G-20 nations are travelling specifically for the event.

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OpIndia Staff
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