On Wednesday, November 24, Iranian demands that female nurses don the hijab in response to Iran’s providing $1.2 million for funding of the new El Alto city hospital in Bolivia sparked a national outcry among women’s rights advocates within Bolivia. In an international teleconference in La Paz held between Bolivian President, Evo Morales, and Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to celebrate the hospital’s opening, nurses were shown wearing hijabs as part of their new uniform regulations.
This imposition of political Islamic pseudo-religious attire from another country is causing a rift within Bolivian political ranks. Even though the Morales administration is the profoundly socialist MAS party, the Iranian demand is still seen as an affront on Bolivian cultural integrity especially in a country with a Roman Catholic majority.
Lourdes Millares, the Deputy for the Democratic and Social Power Party called the Iranian hijab demand, “…an assault on the dignity of women…” and excoriated Morales for, “…submission to the rules of another government.”
Millares went on to state, “We must make clear to the Iranian government that that hospital is Bolivian territory. They have made their money is one thing but this is Bolivian territory.”