President Ebrahim Raisi's wife, Jamileh Alamolhoda, has once again sparked controversy in Iran due to her public and political activism.
Earlier this week, Ms. Alamolhoda wrote a letter to French President Emmanuelle Macron's wife, Brigitte Macron, urging her to ask her husband to press for cease-fire in the Gaza war.
Politicians and members of the public criticized Ms. Alamolhoda for her ambitions to assume the role of the first lady, although, on previous occasions, she clarified that she is no more than a second lady, as the position of the first lady is reserved for Supreme Leader Khamenei's wife Khojasteh.
In September, Ms. Alamolhoda participated in several interviews with US networks alongside the UN General Assembly and spread disinformation including the claim about Iranian men not being happy with their wife going to work. Many men and women objected, explaining that it is hardly possible to make ends meet if both spouses do not go to work to earn a living.
Despite the criticisms, which at least on one occasion came from Khamenei's office, cautioning Raisi to curb his wife's political ambitions and her intervention state affairs, Jamileh Alamolhoda does not seem to have been shaken by the criticisms.
After she was criticized for writing to Ms. Macron, Jamileh insisted that she was writing to 40 other European first ladies, although obviously Europe cannot have that many first ladies.
Earlier this year she created another controversy by sponsoring a conference of "accomplished women" some of whom no one knew and others found out hard to explain their accomplishments.
Ms. Almolhoda has been accused by Iranian politicians for using non-diplomatic expressions in her letter to Ms. Macron. She wrote: "Dear Ms. Macron! Please, as a kind and self-sacrificing woman who represents the women, mothers and daughters of France, ask your husband not to be an accomplice in murdering helpless Palestinian children and women. I wish you reward from God for your humanitarian efforts."
She wrote the letter without knowing that Macron's wife accompanied him during the visit to Israel to express support for the government. Critics asked whether the Iranian Foreign Ministry knew about the letter at a time Iran needs stronger diplomacy.
Some at the President's Office in Tehran have told Khabar Online that writing the letters was Ms. Alamolhoda's independent activity and had nothing to do with the government.
Earlier, conservative commentator Mohammad Mohajeri wrote that some cabinet members felt humiliated when they found out that they needed to go and see Ms. Alamolhoda to brief her on their activities. He reminded Raisi that "great men", possibly alluding to Khamenei, told you beforehand to stop that kind of behavior.
A cleric by the name of Jalil Mohebbi, wrote just once sentence to Raisi in a tweet: "Stop your wife!" Later, he was probably forced to change his tone and write a formal letter to Ms. Alamolhoda and President Raisi on social media.
Conservative cleric Abbas Ali Amiri wrote in a tweet addressed to Ms. Alamolhoda: "If you accept the title of the first lady, you should also accept concepts such as secularism, pluralism, liberalism and so on."
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's aide, Abdolreza Davari, also wrote in a tweet that what she did was non-diplomatic and disrespectful to the regime and Supreme Leader. She also accused Ms. Alamolhoda of doing all this because she has an ambition to be called "first lady."
On the other hand, official news agency chief, Ali Naderi, claimed that Ms. Alomolhoda's letter was effective, and Macron has called for a cease-fire. Iranian journalist Ehsan Bodaghi wrote in a tweet that if Naderi had checked his own agency's output, he would have found out that Macron called for a cease-fire several weeks ago.
Iranian media argued that the role of the first lady is clearly defined in the laws of foreign countries, and there are official protocols for what they can and cannot do. However, in Iran, there is no such person as the first lady and the country's former presidents including Khamenei himself understood this very well. What Raisi thinks about the matter is another story. His office never answers questions. However, individuals close to him have insisted that Ms. Alamolhoda's activities are independent of her husband's role.
In other words, either Raisi cannot prevent his wife from intervention in state affairs, or he agrees with what his wife does, but does not feel the need to explain that to others.
Some media outlets such as Khabar Online have suggested that if Ms. Alamolhoda is so keen to continue her activism, she had better establish a political and ensure that, as President's wife, what she does will not disrupt the consistency between the president office's policies and those of the political system as a whole.