Switzerland’s ambassador to Iran angered Iranians around the world by wearing a chador, a traditional full-body-length garment that is pulled over the head, while visiting Qom, a holy city in Iran, reported RTS. People from around the world, including Switzerland, reacted with outrage at the images.
For many months, a large number of Iranians have been protesting against Iran’s ruling regime after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police for not wearing her veil correctly. In response many women across Iran stopped wearing traditional clothing and cut their hair in public in protest. In this context, images of Nadine Olivieri Lozano, Switzerland’s ambassador, wearing the full-body garment alongside prominent Iranian religious figures have triggered widespread anger on social media.
It’s absolutely shocking, baffling and out of touch with reality to have an ambassador from our country behaving like that, said Mitra Sohrabi, an Iranian/Swiss lawyer based in Geneva. She described the behaviour as extremely naive and said the ambassador had been exploited by the regime. For Sohrabi the traditional dress code imposed on women in Iran is at the heart of the revolution and represents the symbol of a political islam that devalues women. In an earlier interview, the lawyer told RTS that more than 100 Iranian women have been kidnapped or killed in Europe by the Iranian regime for political reasons.
In addition, numerous Iranians in Switzerland have reported being intimidated for taking part in protests. Several cases have been identified by RTS, however none have been reported to the police out of fears of what may happen to family members in Switzerland and Iran.
Darya Safai, a politician in Belgium, described the ambassador’s behaviour as disgusting. “Swiss ambassador Nadine Olivieri Lozano wears a chador & goes to a mosque with the mullahs. While millions of Iranian women are fighting for women’s rights and knowing that thousands have been killed for it, she wears a hijab and makes publicity for the oppressors. Disgusting!” she wrote.
Masih Alinejad, an American/Iranian writer wrote “While teenagers & women are getting beaten, jailed & killed for saying NO to forced hijab, NO to gender apartheid regime, Swiss ambassador in Iran obeyed forced hijab. Shameful & betrayal to Iranian women. Switzerland must respond why they took side with our killers.”
Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) told RTS that during the visit the dress protocole in force for women had been respected and that interfaith dialogue was of great importance in the current environment. In addition the department said that Switzerland was using all existing channels to encourage dialogue and that Switzerland had been clear on its position on several occasions on violations of human rights in Iran.