Top Iranian official calls for Israel to be kicked out of UN women’s rights conference

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A top Iranian official on Monday demanded that Israel be expelled from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for its ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip. 

Speaking at the commission’s 68th annual gathering, Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Ensieh Khazali criticized Israel for its response to the Oct. 7 massacre, when Hamas militants stormed into Israel, killed 1,200 civilians, and injured hundreds of others.   

Ensieh Khazali

Ensieh Khazali, the vice-president for women and family affairs, giving a speech in New York City.  (United Nations)

Khazali cited figures from Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry that Israel has killed more than 30,000 people since Oct. 7. She alleged that Israel’s actions constituted a “genocide.” 

“On behalf of the powerful women of Iran, and in one voice with the resistant and pacifist women, I urge a revocation of the membership of the terrorist Israeli regime to this commission,” she said. 

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Khazali then pivoted to the status of women in Iran. She argued that Iran had made “rapid progress” since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the decades-long monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown, leading to the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Among the changes implemented were mandating that women wear the hijab in public.  

As evidence of this “progress,” Khazali referenced low infant mortality rates, free healthcare, and the growth of “gender justice.” 

Her comments come after the country faced international criticism for its brutal crackdown on protests that ignited in response to the death of Masha Amini in September 2022. The 22-year-old was arrested for failing to comply with Iran’s law requiring women to cover their hair and died while in the custody of the country’s morality police. 

Protests in Iran

Iranians protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police last month, in Tehran, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.  (AP/Middle East Images, File)

Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director at FDD Action, said the UN ought to rethink who appears on its stage if it wants to be taken seriously as a body “with the power to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.” 

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“At a time when women in the Islamic Republic face harsh punishment for dancing in public, attending sports events at stadiums, or dressing as they wish, providing a platform to Ms. Khazali, who used it to deflect attention from her government’s pervasive women’s rights abuses, makes a mockery of the CSW,” he said. 

Mahsa Amini grave

The grave of Mahsa Amini in her hometown of Saqqez, Iran. Photo obtained by Fox News Digital. (Fox News Digital)

His colleague, FDD Senior Fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu, said the last place the Islamic Republic should be “is a meeting in New York City at the Commission on the Status of Women.” 

“Granting a visa for a regime official like Khazali, who promotes regime propaganda on the hijab, the Mahsa Amini protests, and the gender segregation that exists in Iranian law, is an own goal for the United States, particularly as Washington claims to stand with Iranian women, dissidents, and protestors,” he said. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the U.N.’s press office for a response. 

Khazali’s appearance sparked an uproar among critics of the Islamic Republic. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has called on the State Department to revoke Khazali’s visa to the U.S. 

In a statement, the group alleged that Khazali was a “key enabler of women’s rights abuses in Iran” and a “supporter of child marriage.” 

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The group cited a report from the U.N. Human Rights Council which had found cases of women and girls in Iran who had been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence.