Iran's Phantom First Lady Comes Out
Like all the Islamic Republic's first ladies, the wife of
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has been something of a phantom, with very
occasional public appearances and no discernible political role. Yet recently
Azam al-Sadat Farahi has bucked that trend.
She has publicly called on Egypt's first lady to use her influence to secure
help for the people of Gaza. In a
letter to Suzanne Mubarak, published by Iranian news
agencies, Farahi wrote that "witnessing the dead bodies of women and children is
painful and even worse is that some governments in Arab and Islamic countries do
not support Gaza's oppressed people."
She then adds: "You could ask your husband and his administration to prevent the
intensification of the humanitarian catastrophe by opening the way for aiding
The move has surprised many Iranians and it has been widely discussed on Farsi
forums and blogs. Here's a
selection of comments from an Iranian news aggregator:
One refers to Ahmadinejad's wife black chador: "the little bit of her nose that
has not been covered by her chador looks beautiful."
Another suggests that Egypt's first lady should reply: "She should write back to
Ahmadinejad's wife and say 'behave like the wife of Imam Hassan did.' I think it
was his eighth wife who killed him."
One writes: "What do you expect from someone who sleeps next to Ahmadinejad?!"
And another: "They give money for killing Mubarak, then they write a letter." (A
group of radical Iranian students has offered a $1.5 million reward for the
execution of Mubarak.)
According to the
Shahab news agency, Farahi sent her letter to Suzanne
Mubarak about two weeks after Iran's former first lady, the wife of Mohammad
Khatami, sent a letter to the wife of the king of Qatar calling on all
governments and people to support the Palestinian people.
Perhaps Khatami's wife has inspired the first lady? Or is this a public
expression of a personal rivalry?
-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Copyright (c) 2009 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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