Iran’s media considers German female minister a man, sparking outrage over handshake

Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar

Iran’s press and social media users blasted a handshake between Germany’s Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks and Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar on Thursday.

The Iranian news outlet IRIB reported that Ebtekar shook a man’s hand while visiting her counterpart Hendricks in Berlin.

 Iran’s radical theological state prohibits hand contact between a religious woman and a man who does not know her. Tehran also mandates a public policy of strict separation between men and women.

“This handshake [created an] uproar for [a] few hours in conservative media & social network pages. They thought the #Germanminister is a man. #Iran,” wrote Sadegh Ghorbani, a Tehran- based journalist, on his Twitter feed.

Ebtekar served as the spokeswoman for the Iranians who took 52 Americans hostage in 1979

Germany’s LGBT press reported on the case of alleged homophobia because Hendricks is a lesbian. The website wrote that Hendricks announced she was a lesbian in 2013 and is the first lesbian in German history to serve as a federal minister.

The NGO Stop the Bomb, an organization that seeks to end Iran’s nuclear program and improve human rights in the country, tweeted on Friday, “Disgraceful: Lesbian German minister happily signed deals with regime of Iran that executes homosexuals.”

According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks dispatch, Iran executed 4,000 to 6,000 gays and lesbians between 1979, the founding of the Islamic Republic, and 2008. Iran’s regime prescribes the death penalty for gays as part of Islamic Shari’a law system.

In July, Iran hanged Hassan Afshar, 19, a gay teenager.

Stefan Schaden, a LGBT rights activist with the Stop the Bomb campaign, told The Jerusalem Post at the time, “Consensual homosexual conduct remains illegal under Iran’s Shari’a law and is punished with public flogging or even execution.

While the Islamic State throws gays from rooftops, the Islamic Republic [of Iran] hangs them.”