“A regional crossroads, Iran also appears to be a primary source of the infections that have spread to neighbors.”
Patients include Iranian vice president who served as spokesperson for Islamic kidnappers in the 444-day Iran hostage crisis of 1979
Feb 27, 2020
New York Times – A senior figure in Iran’s government, who sits just a few seats away from President Hassan Rouhani at cabinet meetings, has fallen ill with coronavirus, making her Iran’s seventh official to test positive, including one prominent cleric who has died.
Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, Mr. Rouhani’s deputy for women’s affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, has a confirmed coronavirus infection and is quarantined at home, her deputy said Thursday.
The disclosure came a day after a cabinet meeting in which she was in close contact with other government leaders, including Mr. Rouhani. A photo posted by a BBC Persia reporter on Twitter showed she had been sitting a few yards from the president.
Ms. Ebtekar, one of four vice presidents, was known to Americans as “Mary” during the Tehran hostage crisis four decades ago, when, as a young revolutionary, she was a spokeswoman for the captors of the 52 Americans held at the United States Embassy.
Iran now appears to have the highest number of government officials infected by the coronavirus, which was first officially reported in the holy Iranian city of Qom on Feb. 19. The disease is believed to have spread to the country from China, which has maintained close economic relations with the Tehran government despite American sanctions.
A regional crossroads, Iran also appears to be a primary source of the infections that have spread to neighbors.
At least 245 people have been infected in Iran, with 26 deaths, Health Ministry officials said Thursday, most of them in Qom, a destination for Shiite pilgrims.
But health experts estimate the number of infections is far higher, possibly over a thousand, because the country’s fatality rate of about 20 percent seems so high. The World Health Organization has said the fatality rate is about 2 percent.
Cases surfacing in recent days in Bahrain, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Oman, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Kuwait all have afflicted people who had visited Iran. READ MORE.
Masoumeh (“Mary”) Ebtekar
Served as spokesperson for Islamic kidnappers in the Iran hostage crisis of 1979
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Masoumeh Ebtekar (born 21 September 1960) is current Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, being appointed on 9 August 2017.
She previously headed Department of Environment from 1997 to 2005, making her the first female member in the cabinet of Iran since 1979 and the third in history. She held the same level of office from 2013 to 2017.
Ebtekar first achieved fame as “Mary”, the spokesperson of the “students” who took hostages and occupied the US Embassy in 1979. Later she became the head of the Environment Protection Organization of Iran during the administration of President Mohammad Khatami, and was a city councilwoman of Tehran from 2007 to 2013.
Ebtekar was born in Tehran as Masoumeh, Niloufar Ebtekar in a middle-class family.
Her first name translates to “Innocent Water Lily” in English. Ebtekar’s father studied at the University of Pennsylvania, and she lived with her parents in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia.
During her six years in Philadelphia, she developed “near-perfect, American-accented English.”
Returning to Iran she enrolled in Iranzamin (Tehran International School). Later after graduation as a student, she became a supporter of the political Islam of Ali Shariati and began wearing a traditional black chador covering everything except her face.
Ebtekar holds a BSc degree in laboratory science from Shahid Beheshti University, a MSc and PhD in immunology from Tarbiat Modares University in 1995, where she still teaches.
Ebtekar is married to Seyyed Mohammad Hashemi who is a businessman in the private sector. They have two children.
Ebtekar served as spokesperson for the students in the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, where Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line occupied the US Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Selected because of her good command of English, she made regular appearances on American television as translator and spokesperson for the students, where she presented the official positions of the students.
She was referred to as “Mary” by foreign press, and “Tiger Lily” by the hostages, a play on the translation of “Niloufar.”