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Tempers Flare in Iran Election Campaign

June 20, 2024
1 min read
The most explosive moment came during a televised "Cultural Roundtable" debate involving candidate Masoud Pezeshkian and his advisors
The most explosive moment came during a televised "Cultural Roundtable" debate involving candidate Masoud Pezeshkian and his advisors

Iran's presidential candidates engaged in a series of dramatic moves on the campaign trail Wednesday as they ramped up efforts to sway voters ahead of the June 28 election.

The most explosive moment came during a televised "Cultural Roundtable" debate involving candidate Masoud Pezeshkian and his advisors. 

Sociologist Mohammad Fazli, one of Pezeshkian's advisers, got into a heated verbal altercation with TV personality Shahab Esfandiari after being labeled a "fired professor" who undermined higher education standards.

Esfandiari claimed Fazli violated laws by working outside the university system while under contract as a professor. 

As the two men's argument escalated, event organizers cut their microphones, prompting Fazli to hurl his mic aside and abruptly exit the "Cultural Roundtable" debate.

The incident immediately went viral on Iranian social media.

To some, Fazli's outburst reflected the simmering "great anger" among the Iranian populace after the government's violent crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini. Others dismissed it as a personal dispute.

However, the television moment underscored the intensity surrounding the election.

Pezeshkian's campaign was not the only one to engage in theatricals on Wednesday. 

In an unorthodox move, hardline lawmaker Amirhossein Sabeti, a supporter of candidate Saeed Jalili, appeared on a television program typically reserved for candidates' wives and daughters to appeal directly to women voters.

In another move, candidate Mostafa Pourmohammadi brought his daughter on air and introduced her as an "economic expert."

A second televised debate is scheduled for Thursday night as the six candidates make their pitches to an Iranian electorate deeply distressed by economic woes and state repression.

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