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Society & Culture

Call for Turkey Travel Ban Following Iranian Airport Assault

August 6, 2015
Shima Shahrabi
4 min read
Call for Turkey Travel Ban  Following Iranian Airport Assault

Turkish police physically assaulted three Iranian women at Istanbul Atatürk Airport after they complained about delayed flights.

The husband of one of the women told the Tabnak website that the Turkish police had slapped and hit the three women after they complained about delays to their Pegasus Airlines flight from Istanbul to Oslo. Pegasus Airline personnel were also reported to have insulted the women. The report was later confirmed by Iranian MP Ahmad Showhani.

IranWire spoke to Ahmad Showhani, who also sits on parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, about the attack, about the sexual assault of two Iranian boys at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, and about the importance of protecting Iranian travelers abroad. “Banning trips to Turkey will be our slap in the face against this country,” he said. 


What is your understanding of what happened at Istanbul Airport?

Apparently the flight into Istanbul was delayed, causing passengers flying to other countries from there to miss their flights. I heard that Pegasus Airlines subsequently promised the passengers that they would be put on the next flight to Oslo. But then the passengers realized that they would have to stay at the airport for three days. They complained to the airline’s personnel, who mistreated them. Some of them filmed the event and called the police. On arrival, the police treated three women in an insulting way and beat them. They confiscated their mobiles and arrested them for a few hours.


An eyewitness said that one of the women had been slapped on the face. Do you know anything about this?

I haven’t spoken with them personally. However, we have heard from different sources that unfortunately this is true. We have asked the our Foreign Ministry to pursue the case. Parliament was on holiday last week, but we will follow up the investigation through the Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry next week. Our best slap in the face to Turkey would be to ban all trips to this country until they deal with the case.


Following the case of the two boys assaulted at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia, the government took the decision to ban Iranians from making the “lesser” or Umrah pilgrimage (a pilgrimage to Mecca that can take place at any time of the year, as opposed to the Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place during the last month of the Islamic calendar every year) . Was this the right decision?

We responded seriously to the rape of the two Iranian boys at Jeddah Airport, banning the lesser pilgrimage despite the fact that some people had already registered to go. We said we will maintain the ban on the lesser pilgrimage until Saudi Arabia officially apologizes and punishes the culprits. The ban is still in place.


Have Saudi Arabia officials apologized? We are approaching the time of Hajj, when many Iranians are preparing to go to Saudi Arabia.

We are still pursuing the case. According to what we have been told, some measures have been taken in regard to the culprits. We are still waiting for practical measures. Our reaction will hopefully make Saudis properly treat our pilgrims. They have realized that whenever Iranians are disrespected, we will not keep silent.


With regard to the most recent incident, do other MPs also believe trips to Turkey should be banned?

We haven’t had any session on this subject yet. But this is different from the case of Saudi Arabia. Our relationship with Turkey is friendlier than our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Iranian tourists are one of the financial resources of this country and in case of such treatment, it is Turkey that will lose out, and not Iran. In any case, if they do not revise their behavior, we might take such measures.

We do not expect any country to treat Iranians in this way. As the representatives of our nation, we promise to pursue the case, and we expect the Turkish government to show a suitable reaction to this case .We also expect the representatives of the Foreign Ministry to seriously follow up on the case and inform the public about the results. 


Realted articles:

Survey: How should the Iranian public respond to the recent sexual assaults at Jeddah Airport?

The Headache of Air Travel in Iran


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