Following the January 19 collapse of Plasco, a 17-story historic building in downtown Tehran, mass anger against the authorities in the Iranian regime has been building up. Twenty people were killed in the disaster. The mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Ghalibaf, a former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C) commander, who remains close to his comrades, appeared in front of the members of the parliament but refused to apologize.

Following Ghalibaf’s appearance, one member of the Tehran Municipality Council member called the mayor’s performance a “publicity stunt.” , Ghalibaf’s report on the disaster and statements about the Plasco tragic incident “was unrealistic and was more akin to a political campaign for the [2017] presidential elections.” Ghalibaf, who has repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought the presidency, is a potential candidate to challenge the incumbent President Rouhani.

This angry sentiment that Ghalibaf has repeatedly proven to be an incompetent mayor and refuses to be held responsible for a series of infrastructural accidents in Tehran is widespread across the Iranian population. Ghalibaf, however, is politically protected by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and this explains his intransigence in the face of so much public anger. Another key actor that has given Ghalibaf a pass and does not cover the disaster is the hardline media that are almost all tied to the I.R.G.C.