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Leg-crossing Swedish ambassador angers Iran

Leg-crossing Swedish ambassador angers Iran

Published: 08 Dec 2012 14:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Dec 2012 14:33 GMT+01:00

Sweden's newly appointed ambassador in Tehran has reportedly upset Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - by crossing his legs during a meeting.

According to Iranian website Asriran.com the Swedish ambassador, Peter Tejler, committed the apparently offensive act after a ceremony in which he presented his credentials to the president.

It is unclear, though, whether the president himself was offended by the ambassador's cross-legged pose or whether this was, in fact, the interpretation of events by Asriran.com. Photos from the meeting show Ahmadinejad himself sitting cross-legged, too.

Armenian website Panorama translated the Iranian website's report, which explains that crossing one's legs "contradicts international diplomatic norms".

The report continues: "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his part, himself crossed his legs in response to the impoliteness of his interlocutor."

Photographs from the meeting indeed show Tejler sitting cross-legged, his right foot pointing slightly upwards.

The Atlantic Wire has published this explanation, from the University of West Florida, of why it is a taboo in Muslim culture to show the soles of one's feet.

"Pointing the soles of the feet towards someone is impolite because the soles of the feet (shoe) are considered dirty, closest to the ground, closer to the devil and farther away from God. When in the presence of Muslims, be careful not to raise or cross your legs in such a way that the sole of the foot faces others in the room."

The website of the Swedish Embassy in Tehran confirms that the ceremony and meeting took place in on December 3rd but has no mention of the ambassador's and the president's sitting poses.

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Your comments about this article

15:16 December 8, 2012 by Iraniboy
What a load of ****!!!

If you know Persian to read asriran you see it is the other way around!

First of all an Iranian diplomatic relation specialist in that website claims this behavior is insulting in European culture hence this is unacceptable!! Otherwise nobody knew it can be insulting in Iran! So this Atlatic Wire paranoia is out of touch!

Second, since when a diplomatic relation specialist represents Iran ?!
19:48 December 8, 2012 by PurpleRaffa
I think this has nothing to do with the islamic faith, the topic's suggesting a bloody objectionable generalization trying to give all muslims a common trait, which is thoroughly stupid, i'm sorry.
20:22 December 8, 2012 by Hisingen
Very much a non-item, and someone is endeavouring to raise a storm in a teacup.

Clearly a case of 'lost in translation'.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good!
20:43 December 8, 2012 by Iraniboy
In Asriran where the local is referring to, it reads:

Mr Ali M. Bidar, International diplomatic relation expert continues: "This way of sitting in Europe is only acceptable during a meeting with a diplomat of the same level and not higher. So this behavior can be criticized"

So obviously thelocal editor hasn't read the original news they are referring to!!!

In fact since nobody in Iran understands how this act can be insulting , the reporter in the asriran has to ask an expert and mention that it is wrong in Europe!!!
23:26 December 8, 2012 by Cornelius Hamelberg
A Western diplomat is supposed to know these things.

One more thing to beware of - according to modern Islamic symbology - the neck-tie is supposed to represent the cross ( from Islam's point of view, that detestable cross - which represents a crucifixion that really didn't really take happen - according to the Qur'an.)

So, to cause least offence and to show maximum respect for Islamic sensitivities - the dress code should be appropriate for the occasion...

With a little practice, the abominable left hand will not be used in the prescence of the host - in any Muslim country.

Respect begets respect - when in Rome etc...
00:03 December 9, 2012 by jostein
This is terrible! When you deal with Arabs and Arab client peoples such as the persians you should learn Arab customs and comply with them. Peter Tejler is a disgrace!
00:20 December 9, 2012 by Svensksmith
Wonder what Mr. Ahmadinejad would think of Sharon Stone's uncrossed legs?
02:13 December 9, 2012 by fareasttiger
Good thing that this ambassador is a swede, I wonder what would happen if a scottish were to wear his traditional costume and uncrossed his legs and show his bulleye?

How about respect for the swedish's traditions when they feed, house and cloths you sorry behinds huh?
08:13 December 9, 2012 by RobinHood
To Hell with traditional Iranian behaviour.
11:07 December 9, 2012 by AHA
The article and some of the comments are sheer nonsense. Some may not like the way Iran is behaving but one should, none the less, be fare.
11:09 December 9, 2012 by underskyofsweden
@jostein

Perisans are not ARABs and Arabs are not Persians! Please read some books and then drop comment!
11:10 December 9, 2012 by AHA
The article and some of the comments are sheer nonsense. Some may not like the policy of Iran but one should always be fare.
11:15 December 9, 2012 by underskyofsweden
@jostein

Perisans are not ARABs and Arabs are not Persians! Please read some books and then drop comment!
11:18 December 9, 2012 by AHA
The article is sheer nonsense. Some may not agree with Iran´s policy but hej, this is pure BS.
16:01 December 9, 2012 by smilingjack
sounds like australian news were we are dished up a daily dose of "muslims bad" christians good. the usa and its brave warriors fighting for freedom, love , peace and all things good whilst every day there is an article somewhere demeaning the middle east.

The USA goes to great lengths on preparing specially written fluff pieces which are then printed as genuine reporting. try reading RT news instead.
18:55 December 9, 2012 by klubbnika
#13

@ underskyofsweden

Jostein never said persian were Arabs. He said Persians were Arab client peoples, not Arabs.

Re-read his post please, before acting a besserwisser.
21:40 December 9, 2012 by Danne8
The Local troll has struck again!
00:26 December 10, 2012 by fareasttiger
RT News huh? That stands for Russia Today right? Then move to Russia, they really love muslims there! Here are the few names that russians will probably never forget...Beslan school, Dubrovka Theater and Moscow Airport...remember now?
01:30 December 10, 2012 by nolikegohome
crossing the legs or showing the sole of the feet to someone is not islamic only, it is also considered very insulting in hindu and buddhist ánd middle east cultures. try showing the sole of your feet to a christian in lebanon or iraq or israel and get readt to be insulted. the same goes for many cultures in africa muslim and non muslim countries like ethiopia
09:55 December 11, 2012 by abir
I come from a muslim country , yet I am not a muslim by choice . However I can tell you that the explanation provided is sheer nonsense ! I have never heard that " When in the presence of Muslims, be careful not to raise or cross your legs in such a way that the sole of the foot faces others in the room." Or that you can't cross your legs ! Maybe Ahmadinejad has this particular phobia in him but It's not muslim amd definitely not Arabic .
11:38 December 11, 2012 by LaVox
Hmm...it sounds ridiculas in a way, indeed...
15:02 December 11, 2012 by jeff9556
Thanks Iraniboy for setting this strait.
17:35 December 16, 2012 by True & Evil
They are all stupid cunts. Politics is crap.
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