Iran’s parliament speaker is embroiled in controversy over his family’s travel to Turkey
Iran–Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, is facing calls for his resignation after images of his family returning from a trip to neighboring Turkey went viral.
The photos were first uploaded in a chain on Twitter by well-known whistleblower Vahid Ashtari, who said he had confirmed the names of Ghalibaf’s wife, daughter, and son-in-law with personnel at Tehran’s international Imam Khomeini Airport. The photos sparked outrage among Iranians.
Despite not being a part of the trip, Ghalibaf’s son, Elias, quickly issued his own apology on Instagram, slamming his sister and brother-in-law for their “unforgivable transgression” by visiting overseas at a time when regular Iranians are facing economic troubles. Despite this, he disputed allegations that the family visit was to purchase for a layette set for his unborn nephew or niece.
The speaker’s son expressed disappointment that the family trip “would now make all previous charges hurled against my father look credible.” Despite the opposition of the parliament speaker, he stated that his daughter and son-in-law had gone ahead with the trip. Elias did not explain why, despite her husband’s objections, his mother had also joined the couple.
Ghalibaf, a close associate of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been accused of several frauds, some dating back to his time as Tehran’s mayor (2005-2017). Despite accumulating evidence supplied by whistleblowers, the former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander has never been legally indicted by the Iranian judiciary.
A headline in the Reformist newspaper Aftab-e-Yazd on April 21 read, “Kindly Resign.” “At a time when Iranians were trying to make ends meet, the parliament speaker’s wife and daughter traveled to Turkey to buy a layette,” the newspaper stated. The matter has yet to be addressed officially by the parliament speaker.
Ghalibaf attacked the government of his moderate rival, former President Hassan Rouhani, for living a lavish lifestyle during presidential debates in 2017. Iranian outlets and social media users dug back into presidential debates in 2017, when Ghalibaf ferociously attacked the government of his moderate rival, former President Hassan Rouhani, for living a lavish lifestyle. Ghalibaf promised that if elected president, he would defend the “underprivileged 96 percent” of the country in a fight against the “affluent, privileged 4%.” “In the light of such shocking revelation, he must resign from all of his positions,” Reformist commentator Abbas Abdi tweeted. “I’m curious how he’ll stare into the cameras from now on to speak out against the privileged 4%.”
To assuage popular outrage over economic hardships, Iranian officials have mostly blamed the country’s economic woes on US sanctions in recent years, asking residents to cut back on spending and tighten their belts. In direct violation of such restrictions, the Ghalibaf family scandal looked to have just contributed to prior high-profile corruption cases involving prominent officials and their families. All of these incidents were set against the heartbreaking reports of an increasing number of Iranian children and teens who have committed themselves in recent years as a result of poverty.
“You can’t stand on a stage and lecture to the crowd about the virtues of home manufacture… Meanwhile, send your own family to Turkey to go shopping “In his Twitter chain, Ashtari remarked. According to some Ghalibaf supporters, the disruption was caused by party conflicts and a coordinated attempt to defame him. Ghalibaf advisor Mohammad Saeed Ahadian wrote, “What a feast they are providing.” “A parent cannot be held responsible for his child’s actions, no matter how egregious the wrongdoing.”
But Ghalibaf could not escape the wrath of certain hardliners, particularly members of the Stability Front, whose candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2020 lost to the powerful lawmaker. And the daily Javan, which represents Ghalibaf’s fellow IRGC comrades, asked him to “keep his eyes wide awake.” While attempting to distance him from the issue, the article listed previous Ghalibaf-related problems, advising him to be more aware of his family members’ behavior. “Will he learn a lesson?” says the narrator.