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Iranian Parliament Investigates Mixed Parties At Embassies In Tehran

IRAN -- Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Larijani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran, December 3, 2018

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has ordered an investigation into mixed-gender parties held by foreign embassies in Tehran.

In a parliamentary notice on June 10, eight conservative MPs asked the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Culture and Islamic Guidance to elaborate on recent mixed-gender parties attended by ambassadors to Iran.

The representative of the city of Mahallat, Alireza Salimi also delivered a verbal notice, saying, "In our country, an embassy holds a mixed-gender party attended by (Iranian) pseudo-artists and serves alcoholic beverages during the holy month of Ramadan. That is unbelievable, indeed."
Furthermore, Salimi maintained, "In our current situation, the British government is using every tool possible to push some of its particular agenda forward, so one day they organize an Iftar (breaking fast) ceremony and hold a mixed-gender party on another."

Salimi, a member of the hard-line, right-wing Principalist faction of the parliament, called on the Foreign Affairs Ministry to "end mixed-gender parties at foreign embassies and follow up on the case."
Larijani assigned the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission to investigate the case.

Previously, several Principalist MPs and local news outlets protested Iftar parties thrown by the British Embassy in Tehran.
In response, the British ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, tweeted on May 13, "Very strange media criticism of a recent Iftar at the British Embassy. Diplomats, including Iranians, do similar things in every country, every week. The Iftar was respectful of Islam. And in the spirit of this wonderful and hospitable country."

Macaire added in another tweet on the same day, "We invited a range of guests that included Iranians and diplomats. And we tweeted about it to show openness. I invite those journalists who criticized it to come to another Iftar to share their views with us."

On June 1, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnim news agency reported that security forces detained and later released a British and Dutch diplomat at a mixed-gender party in Tehran.

"The two were arrested on Friday but released early Saturday morning after security forces discovered their identity in custody," Tasnim reported.
Tasnim confirmed the party was held in Velenjak, an upscale neighborhood in Tehran.

According to Iranian law, men and women who are not related cannot mix at a party. In large non-family parties or receptions, men and women are required to be in separate rooms or areas.

Arresting foreign diplomats in Iran is not unprecedented. In August 2016, Japanese Ambassador Hiroyasu Kobayashi was briefly detained and questioned following a raid on a similar party by security forces, and that a protest had been lodged with the Iranian Foreign Ministry by Japan.

The incident occurred when Kobayashi and his wife attended a dinner hosted by a local acquaintance. Dozens of people, including other foreign diplomats, took part in the event at which alcohol was served. Midway through the dinner, security authorities stormed the party and prevented attendees from leaving the venue and using their mobile phones. At that time, Kobayashi was not carrying his "diplomatic card" issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. He instead showed his business card, which was subsequently ignored, and was questioned.

Iran has recently arrested a British and Dutch diplomat at mixed-gender party in the Iranian capital city, Tehran. The arrest of foreign diplomats in Iran is not uncommon.