Nader Ghazipour stands on a small stage. He holds a bullhorn in one hand, and waves the other vigorously, in the style of revolutionary speakers. The camera does not show his audience, but you can hear their applause, whistles, and “hoorays” in the background.
“I am a representative of the nation, not the representative of a few bullies,” shouted Ghazipour, MP for Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan Province, which home to part of Iran’s substantial Azeri minority. “I am not a servant of officials. I don’t carry their bags, and I don’t flatter them! You gave me 200, 000 votes in two hours because you want to sharpen me to strike the officials!
Then, he launched into a strange anecdote. “Once they were circumcising a little boy, and on the other side a little girl was crying. She was asked why, and she said, ‘because I know they are sharpening it for me!’ We did not get this country so easy as to send any jackal or kid or jackass to Parliament. Parliament is not a place for jackasses! Parliament is no place for women. It belongs to men. Do you want to send women there so that they would do it to them and you lose your honor?”
Ghazipour, a member of the current parliament, has just been reelected for the upcoming parliament. He won the highest number of votes in the city of Urmia, the capital of West Azarbaijan Province.
The video, it seems, was recorded after election results became known, and Ghazipour is trying to thank the people of Urmia for their votes.
As the video plays, Ghazipour offers ever-more unabashed ethnic and sexual slurs, to such an extent that many official sites did not publish the full text.
Speaking in Azeri Turkish, Ghazipour related a bizarre sexual “joke” about an alleged incident involving himself and Ghodratollah Alijani, representative from Qazvin, in the men’s room at Parliament. In Iran many cities carry popular stereotypes, and the stereotype about Qazvin is that it is a city of homosexuals.
“Sheikh Ghodratollah Alijani was the representative of Qazvin,” Ghazipour told the audience. “He is a Qazvini. Everybody at Parliament is afraid of him. He told an MP from our town who happened to be short ‘Let me take you so you can be my guest for the night.’ One day, I was someplace and asked were the sheikh was. They said that he was in the bathroom, so I went into the lavatory and saw that he had washed every surface, and had covered them with paper towels because he is a cleanliness freak. When he bent for his ablution, I fingered him. Then he fainted and fell to the floor. When I opened the door, 20 people were standing there because of the noises that we had made. I said ‘the sheikh had set an ambush but he was ambushed himself!’ For a week he did not appear at Parliament. After a week, when he saw me, he shouted and other representatives gathered around him. He showed them his torso and told them ‘look what this bastard has done to me. See how purple it is.’ And I said ‘show them the other place!’”
Ghazipour ended the anecdote with another sexual slur: “Parliament is not a place for pansies. Send men to Parliament. Even if they don’t do anything, they can do that other thing!”
“Don’t surrender Parliament to the kids,” Ghazipour said. “Don’t give it to the pansies! Don’t give it to somebody who cannot control his own body. I have an [Azeri] accent and I am proud of it. What have those who speak Persian have done up to now?”
“Reject His Credentials!”
Ghazipour’s speech was first reported by the Tehran daily, Ghanoon. Ghazipour denied making the comments. But when social networks published the video of his speech, civil activists and others reacted.
Some members of the Azeri minority were particularly embarrassed. With the hashtag “I am a Turk but I am not Ghazipour” a number of Azeris distanced themselves from him and criticized him sharply. Some civil activists asked MPs in the next parliament to reject his credentials so he cannot join them.
According to the parliamentary bylaws, the credentials of an elected candidate must be approved by the majority of the representatives before he can be accepted as a member of Parliament.
Zahra Bahramnejad, communications director for the vice-president in women and family affairs, is one of the people who wants Ghazipour kept out of Parliament. “Mr. Ghazipour’s credentials must be rejected,” she told the news website Rouydad 24. “When he offends half the population of Iran he must expect an answer, and the answer is rejecting his credentials.”
Urmia’s Women’s Society of Islamic Iran has also demanded that Ghazipour’s credentials be rejected. “The statements by this MP give direct and flagrant offense to women,” The society declared.
Even Mehdi Ghoreishi, Urmia’s Friday Prayers Leader, got in on the act, albeit without directly naming Ghazipour. “For myself and the people I must complain against candidates who have institutionalized rudeness and disrespect in their speech,” he said in his sermon. “This is a holy place, so I apologize for saying this, but I must state the truth. Their behavior is wrong and God does not approve of it. Sometimes you should not even talk about certain facts. Offense and rudeness are not worthy of an Islamic society.”
The Victim Files a Complaint
Another reaction came from Qazvin representative Ghodratollah Alijani himself, who says he was sexually harassed by Ghazipour. “It is sad that certain people resort to ethnic and sexual subjects to gain momentary and short-term victories, and ignore the goals and the ideals of the regime and the revolution.”
Alijani said he had filed a complaint with the judiciary over Ghazipour’s anecdote about him. “These were false and undignified words, and a complaint has been submitted to judicial authorities so that such characters would not resort to lies and offensive words, which go against Islamic principles, so that they can show off,” Alijani said. “Considering the vulgar statements by this individual and the negative reaction by society, including protests by the ladies and Urmia’s Friday prayers leader, the authorities must act.”
The Iranian Students News Agency later reported that Ghazipour had apologized to Alijani. “I have always had great respect for him,” he was quoted as saying. “I am proud to say that he is a good friend, and is respected by all representatives. In the heat of the elections, I told a joke for laughs, but unfortunately this joke was taken seriously in a bad way. I express my regrets and I hope that the misunderstanding will go away.”
Ghazipour’s reaction to protests, however, came only in the form of a note on the messaging app Telegram. On Wednesday he continued his ethnic slurs in a note on his Instagram page.
He did apologize to the women of Urmia in his Telegram message. “I apologize for my statements, which annoyed the women of Urmia, because in no way I was talking about them,” he wrote. “But there are ladies in Parliament whose situation has not worked to their benefit.”
“We are believers in religion and a few Telegram messages are not going to shake us,” he added defiantly. “There are those who want to destroy me because I am a soldier and a servant of the Leadership,” he said, referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. “But they must understand that a soldier of Imam Khamenei is not scared of such actions.”
Ghazipour is 57, has a master’s degree in governmental affairs, and is a member of the Industries and Mines Committee of Parliament. In the early 1980s he worked for Ayatollah Khamenei’s political campaign, and has twice been appointed governor of towns in West Azarbaijan.
He has a military background too. In 1983, during the Iran-Iraq War, he was appointed the commander of an artillery battalion. He did not forget to mention this in his controversial speech. “I wanted 12 volunteers for an operation,” he told the audience. “Twenty-two people volunteered. I chose 12 who were from Azarbaijan, and we 13 set out on the road towards Basra. We came across 600 or 700 [Iraqis]. They all surrendered, and we killed all of them.”
A very nice guy, you might say.