Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan took a bold stand during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s speech at the UN General Assembly, holding up a sign that read, "Iranian Women Deserve Freedom Now." Erdan’s act of protest was in solidarity with Iranian women and aimed to shed light on the ongoing struggles they face.
Mahsa Amini, whose image was displayed on the placard, tragically passed away in police custody in Iran last year. Her death sparked nationwide protests against the oppression faced by Iranian women with the rallying cry: "Woman, Life, Freedom" echoing globally.
Erdan also condemned the UN for providing a platform to what he referred to as the "butcher of Tehran" before his protest. Following his gesture, he left the assembly while President Raisi delivered his speech.
Videos circulating on social media showed Erdan being detained by UN security personnel following his intervention. However, the UN clarified that he was not detained but rather had engaged in a conversation with security staff.
President Raisi’s speech also caused controversy as he accused the United States of encouraging violence in Ukraine. He attempted to create distance between Iran and Russia by suggesting that the drones manufactured in Iran striking Ukrainian cities could have been sold before Russia’s invasion in February 2022. It’s worth noting that on the same day of President Raisi’s speech, Tehran hosted a Russian defense delegation led by Moscow's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Protests outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City criticized the organization for inviting Iran and providing a platform for its leader. Despite the 2015 nuclear deal, the Western nations of the UK, France and Germany have maintained sanctions on Iran due to concerns about its nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile, on the day President Raisi delivered his speech, the US imposed new sanctions specifically targeting individuals and entities involved in Iran's unmanned aerial vehicle development.
Erdan's protest serves as a crucial reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by women in Iran and the international community’s role in addressing these issues.