Iran’s Gay Eurovision Jibes Strain Azerbaijan Ties
Iran has withdrawn its ambassador from Azerbaijan after clerics criticised Baku’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest, further souring relations between the Islamic Republic and its secular neighbour.
Iran’s withdrawal of its ambassador, for consultations in Tehran, comes after months of accusations by the two countries of meddling in each other’s affairs and as the western-allied, mostly Shi’ite Muslim Azerbaijan is about to host a hugely popular international talent show.
Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest - a flamboyant annual pageant of pop music from around Europe - has been condemned by some Iranian clerics and lawmakers who have referred to a “gay parade” - although no such event is planned.
A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Sobhani, issued a statement urging Muslims in the region to protest what he described as anti-Islamic behaviour by Azerbaijan’s government.
“We heard that the government of Azerbaijan is hosting the international Eurovision Song Contest and that during this contest there will also be a gay parade,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the cleric as saying.