By Reza HaghighatNejad
Naeimeh Eshraghi, granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, caused a mini-scandal this week when users discovered a photoshopped picture of her daughter on her Facebook page. Eshraghi had altered the image of her daughter Naima Taheri accepting an award at her university in Canada to include a manteau over her skinny black trousers and platform heels.
Subscribers to the page spotted the alteration and responded with a mix of opinions that were later deleted. Some have speculated Eshragi resorted to photoshopping her daughter's trendy outfit to avert attacks from conservative media.
As with many of Khomeini’s close relatives, Eshraghi has endured a torrent of attacks by hardliners. Controversy has often surrounded her activity on Facebook, as well as her views on a number of issues including the mandatory wearing of hejab. Expanding on the view she relates on her Facebook page, Eshraghi told Asr-e Iran, "I'm against censorship of any kind. In my view, banning the use of anything that we have banned is not a solution. It is not even a remedy."
Khomeni's heirs are no less than revolutionary royalty, so when his granddaughter starts taking the Islamic Republic to task, everyone starts paying attention. Eshraghi doesn't confine her grips with the government's policies to social media. She is also among the critics of Iran's mandatory veiling policy, and has established a campaign called "One Million Signatures Saying 'No' To Compulsory Hejab." Speaking in defense of her position in an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, she said, "My grandfather's system of spiritual guidance of the government rested its legitimacy on people's consent. Today this theory of government has split many sections of our society from the regime and has led to a deviation from the earlier right path of the revolution." After a flurry of negative reactions to the interview at home, she backtracked on her remarks, claiming they were distorted.
Eshraghi came under fire again this week when she claimed in a Facebook post that former president Hashemi Rafsanjani compared Bashar Assar with Saddam Hussein over their use of chemical weapons. The country’s Expediency Council quickly denied that Rafsanjani made such comments, forcing her to retract and apologize. An audio clip surfaced soon after from a separate speech by Rafsanjani wherein similar remarks were made, vindicating Eshraghi's earlier claim.
In her most recent controversy surrounding the photoshopped picture of her daughter, commenters on Facebook reacted with a mix of opinions. Supporters congratulated Eshraghi on her daughter’s academic achievement, expressing hope that she would one day become Iran’s first female foreign minister. On the other side, a commenter wrote, “Honestly, is there anyone among you [those tied to the regime] who educates your children in Iran? Mashallah all of you, reformist or conservative, educate your children in either Europe or America. The West and America are only bad and dirty for the rest of us, but for you all they’re heaven…I wish your grandfather was here to see this…’Down with America’ and ‘Down with Britain’ have always been oft-repeated slogans, but all of you in power send your kids to the US, Canada or England for education.”
Most of the criticism addressed the photoshop job however, with one commenter jokingly applauding Eshraghi’s “strong photoshopping skills” and calling her an “IT woman.”
Eshraghi stood for a seat in the most recent election for Tehran’s City Council before dropping out. She has previously been active in presidential politics as well, backing reformist candidates, and says she plans on running in the next parliamentary elections. Khomeini’s family have sought ways to retain and expand their influence in the Islamic Republic, fearing the handover of power from Khomeini’s closest allies to hardliners representing the Hojjatieh Society, such as the Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi.