Nina Siakhali Moradi, a 27 year-old Iranian architecture student became a symbol of the women’s movement in Iran when she won a place on the Qazvin City Council. Now she is a symbol of Iran’s repressive culture: she has been deemed too attractive to be a politician.
“We don't want a catwalk model on the council,” exclaimed a Qazvin senior official.
Iran’s election of President Hassan Rowhani brought in new hope for women’s rights: Rowhani has pledged to fight for women’s rights, but change does not come easily. Moradi’s story shows the uphill climb that women have in Iran, and this is only exacerbated by Moradi’s attractiveness.
A city council election left Moradi just 700 votes shy of a seat in the Qavzin government, but when a council member, Ali Farazad, was elected as mayor, Moradi was the default choice to replace him on the council as the runner-up to the last election.
Instead, her votes have been invalidated for no stated reason, but it is widely presumed that the old guard in Qazvin does not want a young attractive female in Iranian politics.
Seyed Reza Hossaini, Qazvin’s representative in Parliament and an election review board member, “explained” that “[Moradi's] votes have 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, of course, doesn’t provide any real reason, and only serves to further the speculation that Moradi was booted from the council for being too attractive.
As for the claim that Moradi has been informed why her votes were disqualified, she says that this is not the case: “I have no information as to why they did this, you need to ask them.”
A former member of the Qazvin Mayoral Office public relations team, Sefatollah Salehi, protested the candidacies of Moradi and two other women, Maryam Nakhostin-Ahmadi and Shahla Atefeh, and reports surfaced that authorities confiscated the campaign posters of all three women.