Written by Staff Writer
(CNN) — Earlier this week, a video of a supporter of Iran’s controversial president hitting a woman named Minhaz Bahar Rasouli after she complained that Rouhani is not putting the rights of women first went viral.
“I was shocked by the brutality,” Rasouli told CNN on Thursday. “It looks like someone used a credit card instead of a gun to pull this attack. I heard someone saying, ‘Hey women, we are going to slap you.'”
Videos of the attack went viral on Facebook after Rouhani held a news conference to discuss development in the country. The Iranian president was clearly upset that two women were detained at the protest.
“Women had come to ask a number of things from the government, one of them being that women’s rights are not fully respected in the governmental process,” Rouhani said, according to translation from the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
The woman in the video is Iranian journalist Bahar Pars-Aynani, founder of the Persian Diary, an online travel publication. Rasouli, Iran’s head of media and culture, had asked Rouhani about the reports of arrests of women.
In the video, the women, wearing headscarves, can be seen calling out their names and repeatedly interrupting Rouhani during his news conference.
Many Iranians interpreted the interruption as a form of dissent and some people speculated that Rasouli was being arrested. She was released Tuesday and has since fled the country.
When asked why the two women were detained, a social media campaign went viral.
“The two women are journalists and the police had previously contacted the women,” Rasouli said. “The women were called by the police and told that their presence at the meeting was inappropriate.”
Supporters of Rouhani quickly took to social media to express their solidarity with the two women, who they described as brilliant and talented. A petition demanding the release of Rasouli has more than one million signatures.
In the video, the man can be seen hitting Rasouli before she turns and runs away. The man can be heard shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is Great).
Iranian news agency IRNA described the incident as “an attack of cowardice” and published a photo of the governor’s bruised face. Iranian media say no charges have been filed in the case and the newspaper has been shut down, reports said.