Sweden defends officials wearing headscarves in Iran

February 14, 2017

Sweden Trade Minister Ann Linde responded to criticism by female rights activists in her country on wearing hijab during her recent visit Iran, saying she was didn’t want to break the Iranian law. 

Earlier, a photo went viral of the Swedish Deputy Prime Minister surrounded by all women; now the same members of the government are being criticized for wearing the hijab during an official trip to Iran. 

The Swedish delegation led by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven received disapproving comments from female rights activists and other Swedish politicians. “This is disastrous for what is being called a feminist foreign policy,” says Jan Bjorklund of the Liberal Party. 

According to him, the Swedish government should have demanded not to make the hijab compulsory for the female members of the delegation. And if Iran did not agree to that, then the trade agreements should have been signed in Sweden or a third country.

The Swedish government calls itself the “first feminist government”, but Linde has defended her decision to wear the hijab in Iran, saying that the only other option would be to send an all-male delegation.
 Swedish companies have been lining up to gain access to Iran’s lucrative market after the lifting of international sanctions. Iran has relatively good relations with neutral Sweden, which has over the years often been critical of the foreign policy of the United States. 

“Due to its long relationship with Iran, Sweden is a country with a good reputation in the eyes of our people, and the optimism of nations towards each other will be fertile ground for developing cooperation,” the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying.

During Lofven’s visit, the two countries signed initial accord on cooperation in areas including science and technology, higher education and research, roads, telecommunications, technology, and women and family.

AK/PA 

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