July 20, 2017
By Potkin Azarmehr
A video showing Iran police shooting at a man with a Kalashnikov from close range in one of the Tehran Metro stations went viral last Saturday. State TV was quick to suggest that a hooligan under the influence of alcohol and narcotics had attacked a harmless cleric, and was subsequently shot in the leg by police. The man later died from excessive bleeding on his way to the hospital.
Iran’s State TV also showed interviews with members of the public who all appeared to express their sympathies with the cleric, condemned the assailant and demanded that thugs should be dealt with severely.
The official narrative was slated after another video went viral. This time the state TV anchor was filmed while interviewing genuine witnesses who were on the scene giving a different version of events. These witness accounts were not aired.
— ?Nariman نریمان (@NarimanGharib) July 15, 2017
Independent witnesses told the state TV reporter that the cleric was harassing a girl for not properly observing the mandatory Islamic dress code. They added that the man had come to the young woman’s defence telling the cleric to mind his own business. Much to the annoyance of the state TV reporter, these witnesses seemed more sympathetic with the man who had attacked the cleric. They alleged that the cleric and his companions turned on the man and started hurling insults at him for trying to protect the girl.
One woman in the crowd complained to the state TV reporter, suggesting that if someone’s dress code is not considered proper they should be told in a civil manner and not through intimidating or aggressive behaviour. The reporter then tried several times to force eyewitnesses to offer observations more in line with his thinking, without success.
More details of the incident have since been obtained. The man who had attacked the cleric was Asghar Nahvipour, a 46-year-old man from Shahr-e-Rey, a sports physiotherapist and a kickboxing coach. On Saturday, 15th July, at 10:30 am, he was boarding a train when he noticed a cleric and his companions harshly admonishing a girl for the way she was dressed. Nahvipour asked the cleric to refrain from profanities when speaking to her. The cleric told him to mind his own business and button up his own shirt. The two exchanged further words and the girl tried to get away. The cleric then chased after the girl. Nahvipour attempted to stop him. The stand-off escalated into a fight which ended with the cleric getting badly hurt.
Nahvipour then paraded the cleric’s turban on the platform and shouted “I am a son of Iran, I have no fear, we are tired of these clerics! We have had enough of what they have done to our country”.
Within five minutes, two armed law enforcement officers approached Nahvipour. One shot him in his upper thigh at close range. Nahvipour fell, bleeding profusely. Reports indicate that he died in the ambulance as a result of excessive blood loss. Examinations carried out by the medical coroner showed no trace of alcohol or narcotics in his system.
Nahvipour was a much respected and popular sportsman in his neighbourhood. He came from a pious family with no previous criminal record. The security forces refused to hand over Nahvipour’s body to his family unless they agreed not to hold a public funeral for him. His body was taken straight to the cemetery and buried in haste.
Nahvipour has quickly become a hero to many Iranians. A large number took to Twitter to praise his courage, viewing him as the embodiment of their frustration, an eruption of the pent up anger that has been held back for so long.