Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the attack on Brig. Gen. Abedin Khorram. The new governor has taken the post in Iran’s Eastern Azerbaijan province, and previously served in the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Security forces didn’t apprehend the man until shortly after he had walked on stage and slapped Khorram, much to the shock of the audience.
“I do not know him of course, but you should that, although I did not want to say it, when I was in Syria I would get whipped by the enemy 10 times a day and would be beaten up,” Khorram said upon returning to the stage to speak. “More than 10 times, they would hold an armed gun to my head.”
Khorram said he considered the man “on par” with his enemies but would “forgive him.” He claimed that he did not know the man, but a later report by the state-run IRNA news agency described the attacker as a member of the Guard’s Ashoura Corps, which Khorram had overseen.
The news claimed the attack was due to “personal reasons.”
Khorram’s appointment has stirred controversy in the Islamic Republic. Iran sits in a precarious economic situation but continues to support foreign regional militias and leaders, including Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Khorram received his appointment from a hard-line parliament under the government of President Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As he continued to speak, some in the crowd shouted “Death to the hypocrites!” and decried Khorram as a “pro-supreme leader governor.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.