When the black-clad Iranian environment minister shook the hand of her German counterpart it was supposed to signal closer cooperation between the two countries.
But the handshake last week set off a storm of criticism in conservative Islamic Iran, according to McClatchyDC. How could a female minister shake hands with a man?
That could have been grounds to call for the resignation of Massoumeh Ebtekar, and many did. Except for the fact that the suit-wearing, short-haired German minister with whom Ebtekar shook hands is actually a woman too, Barbara Hendricks.
The two met in Berlin to sign an action plan on water, air and biodiversity.
Iranian news agency Tasnim, albeit not very graciously, corrected the gender mistake that had sparked the outrage, noting that “Hendricks is a woman, though in the television footage she looks like a man.”
But the controversy did not end there.
Hendricks too came under fire for shaking hands with Iranian minister Ebtekar, who is also the country’s vice president. Ebtekar was the public face of the hostage takers in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
“God-mother of terror a guest in Berlin,” the Bild Zeitung newspaper said in its headline. “Why is the federal government wining and dining a terrorist?”
Signed MOU & well defined action plan on water, air, biodiversity & more with Barbara Hendricks, German Environment Minister in Berlin pic.twitter.com/3hy3lBaajp
— Massoumeh Ebtekar (@ebtekarm) October 6, 2016