Iranian lawmaker under fire for slapping traffic cop

Iran's judiciary is set to look into a case involving a parliamentarian under investigation for slapping a traffic police officer.

al-monitor Iranian traffic policeman Lt. Ali Farhadi speaks with a driver after giving him a fine along the main Tehran artery known as the Modaress, April 29, 2004. The police are out in force on Tehran's streets, not stopping women for being indecently dressed or youth for playing 'depraved" music, but to get them to respect traffic laws.  Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images.

المواضيع

coronavirus, cuba, vaccines, police, abuse, traffic

ينا 25, 2021

An Iranian parliamentarian has drawn criticism and may face legal action after an incident with a traffic cop that went viral on Iranian social media.

The video of a traffic police officer caught the attention of many Iranians as it went viral over the weekend. The incident reportedly took place on Jan. 22. In the video, the young police officer is speaking to another person who is taking the video after the incident as witnesses gathered around, confirming what he said. The police officer accused Iranian parliamentarian Ali Asgar Annabestani of getting out of his car and insulting and slapping the young man because he would not allow his car to pass through the lane designated for buses.

During the ensuing chaos, phone camera footage shows that Annabestani remains in the car as witnesses gathered, completely blocking off all traffic both in the bus lane and in the regular lanes. CCTV footage appears to confirm the confrontation where Annabestani hits the traffic cop.

A video of the incident shows witnesses and traffic police gathering around Annabestani's car. (YOUTUBE/MB)

The video drew the anger of many Iranians, and the anger of the witnesses on the scene could be repeatedly heard, with many proclaiming their support of the traffic police and hurling insults at the parliamentarian. Many saw this as another example of government abuse of an ordinary citizen. In Iran, traffic police are not the same type of police who handle crimes, protests or other offenses. Sometimes they are military conscripts finishing out their service. They do not carry guns, and they have very little enforcement discretion. 

Many media and officials have come to the defense of the traffic policeman and are saying the judiciary will pursue the case. Iran's Police Chief Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari said, “Certainly we support the officer. Everyone is equal before the law, and we expect officials to respect and abide by the law.” Ashtari said the parliamentarian did not have permission to drive in the bus lane. Mohammad Hussein Hamidi, head of traffic police, said there is “sufficient” evidence of the physical confrontation between Annabestani and the traffic policeman, and he said they will wait to see what decision the judiciary makes regarding the matter.

The story made headlines in the top fold of numerous newspapers, including Reformist and conservative newspapers. Aftab and Etemaad newspapers called it “A slap in the face of the law.” Many of the headlines were accompanied by a picture of the young man.   

In other news, Iran is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and officials are warning of a fourth wave. Saeed Namaki, Iran’s health minister, said they will be importing a covid vaccine “in the coming days.” He did not say which country is supplying the vaccines or how they are going to pay for it. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country would not import vaccines from Western countries. Iran has been in talks with Russia, China and India to import the vaccine. Iranian officials have previously said they are in talks with Cuba to produce the medicine, likely domestically. It is believed the vaccine will be imported from India. 

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