Scores of male members of Iranian parliament rushed to take selfies with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, who was in Tehran to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani on August 4.
The lawmakers were widely criticised on social media for “humiliating” themselves and their country. The Iranian Fars news agency described the MPs’ behaviour as “strange”.
As reported by the Daily Sabah, MP Alireza Salimi urged the committee overseeing the conduct of members to probe the incident, calling it “self-surrender to the West”.
One of the lawmakers who rushed to take a photo with Mogherini tried to justify the behaviour by saying that lawmakers had been prevented “from interacting with special guests” during the ceremony.
“This is a cultural rather than a political problem. Every one of those esteemed MPs in that selfie should be interviewed seriously,” cultural adviser to the president, Hesam Ashena, said.
In related news, the BBC noted some of the popular tweets. One compared the image to a scene from the film Malena, where crowds of men rush to light actress Monica Belluci’s cigarette.
Another tweet made the same point using of an iconic image from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Meanwhile, Mogherini – who has built closer ties between the EU and Iran since he appointment – released a statement about the visit to Iran, but made no comment about the related controversy.