Iran to boycott India's Raisina Dialogue over video of protests

Foreign Ministry cites objection to clip of mass rallies on organiser's website

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the Raisina Dialogue organisers had made a mistake. AP
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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will not attend the Raisina Dialogue in India after the organisers posted a video of mass protests in the country, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The annual geopolitical meeting, to be hosted next month by the Indian Foreign Ministry and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), brings together global policymakers including ministers and representatives of the private sector, academia and media.

"The Foreign Minister's attendance was on the agenda ... but we witnessed an unprofessional action by the organisers in the form of a clip," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a televised news conference.

A video posted on the ORF website includes footage of Iranian women cutting their hair in protest against the regime's strict hijab rules.

"Iran and India are committed to non-interference in each other's internal affairs," Mr Kanaani added.

Mass protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a Kurd arrested in September after wearing her hijab "inappropriately", have posed one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s clerical establishment. Many western states have imposed sanctions following a harsh state crackdown in which hundreds of protesters were killed and thousands arrested.

No Iranian official was invited to attend the Munich Security Conference at the weekend, leaving the stage open for prominent members of the opposition such as the son of Iran's late monarch.

Mr Kanaani criticised the organisers for inviting Reza Pahlavi, the son of the shah who was overthrown during Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, to the conference.

"Inviting the son of a deposed and fugitive dictator to the Munich conference is a mockery of the great nation of Iran," he said.

He said the organisers had made a "huge mistake" in "giving the stage to notorious people".

Conference president Christoph Heusgen said he had not invited Iran to attend due to the crackdown on the protests.

Mr Pahlavi, 62, now lives in the United States. He is accused by some of having failed to distance himself from the authoritarian rule of his father, of lacking transparency on his idea for government and for not acting against pro-monarchy supporters on social media.

He has insisted he is not seeking a return to monarchy but says he wants to play a role in creating a secular democratic system in Iran.

Updated: February 20, 2023, 2:28 PM