GOP Lawmakers Blast EU for Sending Senior Official to Iranian President’s Inauguration

EU touts support for human rights while legitimizing election of Ebrahim Raisi

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi / Getty Images
August 12, 2021

A group of Republican lawmakers blasted the European Union for its decision to send a senior official to the inauguration of Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi.

The EU sent Enrique Mora, the political body’s point man for ongoing discussions with Iran over its nuclear program, to attend Raisi’s swearing-in ceremony last week. Mora’s attendance at the ceremony came just days after Iran carried out a deadly drone strike on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) and seven of her GOP colleagues called the EU decision "disgraceful" in a letter sent Thursday to the body’s high representative and vice president of the European Commission, Josep Borrell Fontelles. The lawmakers say the EU is providing legitimacy to an election that was widely panned as rigged. They also say the decision disregards Raisi’s role in mass human-rights abuses, including his decision to approve the extrajudicial killings of dissidents in the late 1980s, which earned him the moniker of the "Butcher of Tehran."

"It is disgraceful and disheartening that the European Union continues to tout its support for human rights and democratic principles abroad, yet it simultaneously legitimizes Ebrahim Raisi's election. Raisi is a murderer who killed thousands of his own people and came to power in an election that was neither free nor fair," Tenney and her colleagues wrote. "High Representative Borrell should uphold the European Union’s human-rights principles and stand with the Iranian people rather than honor and empower their corrupt and abusive leaders."

The letter comes as the EU facilitates ongoing discussions between Iran and the Biden administration over its contested nuclear program. European powers want to see America rejoin the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. A renewed agreement would unwind tough American economic sanctions on Tehran and allow Europe to conduct business with the hardline regime.

Tenney and the other lawmakers say the EU’s presence at Raisi’s swearing-in is an insult to Iranian protesters who have been rallying against the country in recent weeks.

"The Iranian people oppose this regime’s brutality, and they deserve the opportunity to express their views without being massacred and oppressed by their leaders," the letter states. "Your actions minimized the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and legitimized their oppressors."

The letter was also signed by Reps. Tim Burchett (R., Tenn.), Scott Perry (R., Pa.), Stephanie Bice (R., Okla.), Brian Mast (R., Fla.), Nicole Malliotakis (R., N.Y.), Fred Keller (R., Pa.), and Ronny Jackson (R., Texas).