World

Iranian Electoral Candidate Disqualified for Being Too Attractive

"We don't want a catwalk model on the council," says senior officer.

Nina Siakhali Moradi in her campaign poster.

Today in backhanded compliments, a female city council candidate in Qazvin, Iran has reportedly been barred from taking the seat because she is considered too attractive.

27-year-old Nina Siahkali Moradi received 10,000 votes during the city's most recent election, placing her 14th out of the 163 candidates, which landed her the title of "alternate member of council." However when one of those ranked above her was elected as mayor, Moradi was instead disqualified. A senior office in Qazvin has been quoted as saying, "We don't want a catwalk model on the council."

Moradi, a graduate student in architecture ran what many consider a successfully forward-leaning and high-profile election campaign, leading many to cite her disqualification as another blatant example of Iran's sexist policy and Islamic fundamentalism of the highest order. 

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has stated that the disqualification was apparently the result of "non-observance of Islamic codes," which occurred presumably when Moradi, an Iranian woman, decided to run for office, a pursuit normally reserved for Iranian men. Reports suggest that her election campaign posters were largely the basis for complaints from senior conservative rivals who may or may not have viewed the images as provoking and pandering voters for support due to her beauty.

"Almost 10,000 people voted for me and based on that I should be the first alternate member of the city council," Moradi told local news in a performance art piece titled "Wait, This Isn't A Democratic System?"

Seyed Reza Hossaini, Qazvin's representative in Parliament, and a member of the review board, told news group IranWire that Moradi's votes had been "nullified due to her disqualification, as the review board did not approve her credentials. We have told her the reason why she has been disqualified"—this after Moradi revealed that she had never been contacted by any party officials. 

Moradi's opponents have have said that her candidacy was based on her beauty and youth exclusively, with alleged reports prior to the election that the behavior of her supporters was not in keeping with the traditions of conservative Islam. Her campaign slogan, "Young Ideas for a Young Future," had, nevertheless, been approved by Iran's judiciary and intelligence services, despite protest.

Moradi's supporters are calling for a better understanding of the law, with many explaining that the review board and election committee can review an individual's actions during the election, but cannot nullify the results once they've been announced. This controversy comes directly after the election of President Hassan Rowhani, who has vowed to bring about major changes in Iran's observing of civil rights, beginning with the appointment of a female Vice President of legal affairs. Rowhani has not released a statement on Moradi's disqualification. 

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.