By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iranian female lawmakers are suing a hard-line male colleague, Nader Ghazipur, for saying parliament was no place for women and donkeys.
Parliamentary deputy Fatemeh Rahbar told the government news agency IRNA that she and some of her colleagues had filed complaints with Iran's prosecutor-general, parliament's supervisory committee, and parliament speaker Ali Larijani.
“There has been a defamation against women, and Ghazipur must be held responsible," said Rahbar, who has a similar hard-line stance to her fellow lawmaker on many other issues.
A cartoon mocking Nader Ghazipour
(by Keyvan Varessi, Iranian daily Ghanoon)
Ghazipur who was returned to parliament in general elections last month, reportedly made the comments during his reelection campaign. A video of his remarks was later posted online, sparking outrage in many quarters.
"The parliament is not a place for women, it's a place for men," Ghazipur says in the video, before going on to place women in the same category as "donkeys," a term used to insult a person's intelligence.
"We didn't easily win control over the country to send every fox, kid, and donkey there. The parliament is not a place for donkeys," he said.
The 57-year-old lawmaker's comments came as a record number of women -- as many as 20 -- were expected to gain seats in the parliament following the February 26 poll.
WATCH: Nader Ghazipur's Controversial Campaign Speech (in Persian, no subtitles)
When the YouTube video of Ghazipur's controversial and crude remarks was published, it quickly attracted both online and offline criticism, as well as calls for him to be barred from office.
Zahra Nejadbahram, the head of the Information Council of the government's office for women's and family affairs, was quoted by Iranian news sites as saying that Ghazipur should be disqualified.
"When his thinking [allows] him to insult half of the country's population, he should expect a reaction, and the reaction should be the rejection of his [credentials]," Nejadbahram said on March 2.
The video also prompted a social media backlash, with some calling on the Guardians Council, which approved Ghazipur's parliamentary candidacy, to disqualify him. Others likened him to former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who was known for his use of crude and undiplomatic language.
As the condemnation mounted, the parliamentary deputy apologized to the women of his electoral constituency, saying he "wasn't talking about them."
Ghazipur, however, went on to describe himself as a "servant and soldier" of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and insisted that he would not be changing his "stances."
Another cartoon mocking Nader Ghazipour
(by Alireza Seddighi, Iranian daily Ghanoon)
According to fellow lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar, Ghazipur has since issued another apology through mediators and said that he didn't mean to insult female parliamentarians. Nonetheless, Rahbar said the complaint won't be withdrawn.
"His words have gone public through the media and gone viral inside and outside Iran," she said. "He should come out and [explain himself] in the same way, she said."
Ghaazipur is currently a member of the parliament's Mine and Industry Commission. His biography says he fought during the 1980-88 war with Iraq to defend "his country and Islamic values."
His biography posted on the website of the parliament's research center says he also worked as Khamenei's campaign manager when the supreme leader ran successfully for president in 1981 and 1985.
According to media reports, the journalist who originally posted the video of Ghazipur's controversial comments online was later beaten up by unknown assailants.
With reporting by IRNA, AFP
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