Iran MPs under fire for 'embarrassing' selfies with Mogherini

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European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attends a swearing-in ceremony for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani for a further term, at the parliament in TehranImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
One social media user said the MPs had "embarrassed the nation"

Members of the Iranian parliament have found themselves under fire for "strange" behaviour involving the EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini.

She was in Iran for President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration on Saturday when she found herself the centre of attention on the parliament floor.

Photos showed Ms Mogherini surrounded by a number of male MPs, taking photos.

Many social media users criticised the MPs, ridiculing them or labelling their actions "humiliating".

The Fars news agency posted a photo which many social media users felt showed Ms Mogherini unimpressed - and labelled the MPs' behaviour "strange".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

One MP, Alireza Salimi, called the behaviour "self-surrender to the West", and said that a committee on the conduct of members may probe the incident - if other MPs complain that the selfies caused "contempt" for parliament.

The EU has issued a number of sanctions against Iran over human rights and the country's nuclear programme.

But while Mr Salimi felt the behaviour signalled subservience towards a top Western official, many on social media ridiculed the image of men crowding Ms Mogherini.

One popular tweet compared the image to a scene from the film Malena, where crowds of men rush to light actress Monica Belluci's cigarette.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Another made the same point using of an iconic image from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Ahmad Mazani, one of the MPs in the controversial pictures, tweeted that lawmakers had been banned "from interacting with special guests" during the ceremony - explaining the rush to crowd Ms Mogherini at its conclusion.

But Twitter users remained critical, with one replying that the MPs had "embarrassed the nation".

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Ms Mogherini posed for photos and made no comment about the social media drama

Hesam Ashena, the cultural adviser to the president, said: "This is a cultural rather than a political problem. Every one of those esteemed MPs in that selfie should be interviewed seriously."

Sadegh Kharrazi, an adviser to reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, suggested that all Iranian MPs undergo "a training course on codes of conduct and universal moral values".

Ms Mogherini - who has built closer ties between the EU and Iran since her appointment - released a statement about the visit to Iran, but made no comment about the related controversy.

BBC Monitoring contributed to this report.