Written by By Tyler Brodie, CNN
Iran’s governor for the high-arch city of Shiraz in central Iran, Gholamresadr Mansour Zia, said he suffered a slap in the face after delivering a speech at Friday prayers.
CNN affiliate Kaleme said it was caught on video during prayers at a mosque in Shiraz.
“Some goons in plain clothes grabbed me from behind,” a slightly-veiled Zia is quoted as saying. “The individual … slapped me and I hit him back … It was an unpleasant experience for the moment. He immediately apologized and fled.”
In another video published by Iran’s Khouz News, Zia said: “I have had this experience dozens of times before and several threats to my life. I’ve received lots of blackmailers. But I did not take the bait. This experience has made me stronger.”
Kaleme reports he suffered bruising to his face. It is not clear who was responsible for the slap.
Zia’s popularity is said to have grown as a result of the confrontation. He is seen in video footage standing alongside a walking stick to navigate through the crowd after the slapping and pushing.
Tehran has seen a number of high-profile confrontations in recent years. Earlier this year, a young man allegedly punched an imam as he was addressing Friday prayers in Tehran, causing a crowd to jeer and encourage the assailant.
Three weeks later, a mosque in the city was stormed by attackers who chanted anti-Iranian slogans. There was no immediate confirmation of their identities, and no arrests were made.
Although the threat of arrest is not a barrier for protesting, Iran’s judiciary powers are considerably greater than those of Turkey and Russia.
It is unclear if the person responsible for the slap will face justice.