Iran’s ambassador to the UK has been dismissed from his post and ordered back to Tehran after videos circulated online showing the diplomat hosting an embassy reception which showed some women did not wear hijab.
The return of Mohsen Baharvand to Tehran was reported by the Iranian news agency, ILNA.
At the event commemorating the 43rd Iranian Revolution, a woman playing a piano alongside a violinist was not wearing a hijab. Another video of the event showed a more conventional gathering at which speeches were given.
An Iranian in London tweeted a video of the event, attended largely by diplomats, asking whether the party would “with the presence of these people have the slightest benefit for the Iranian people?”.
He later tweeted: “It is gratifying that our voice was heard in Iran. Please send an ambassador to London who is pragmatic and worthy of serving Iran and working only for the benefit of the Iranian people.”
The news of the recall circulated first in pro-regime newspapers, and some claimed it was part of a wider reorganisation of the Iranian diplomatic service being carried out by the new more hardline government led by Ebrahim Raisi, elected last June.
Baharvand was appointed by the foreign ministry before the presidential elections, but took up his London posting in July after the change in leadership of the department. He was previously the deputy head of the legal department in Iran under Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former foreign minister.
In his dealings with reporters in the UK, the ambassador did not stray from the official government position on the Iran nuclear talks, but tried to explain the context of Iranian thinking.
His departure comes at a critical time in British-Iranian relations. Iran is on the cusp of deciding whether to accept Washington’s terms for a US return to the Iran nuclear deal, including the lifting of many sanctions.
Alongside the nuclear talks, Britain is seeking to secure the release of three British-Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran. (Source: The Guardian)