(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

Maryam Monsef’s birthplace controversy has made the news in Iran and likely caught the attention of the regime in Tehran too.

Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency wrote a report claiming Monsef is scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada in February about her immigration documents. The Farsi-language report states she faces deportation and citizenship revocation

This unverified report lacks credibility. Monsef’s office confirmed this, saying in an email, “it will come as no surprise that it’s not true.”

Fars is not credible; it’s considered a mouthpiece for the Islamic Republic of Iran. But the news agency’s interest in Monsef shows that the government of Iran is paying attention. Perhaps that is because of new information revealed about Monsef’s recent travels to that country.

When Monsef’s press secretary first told Postmedia’s David Akin that she travelled to Iran using an Afghan passport, it sounded like a mere stopover. Monsef’s spokesperson said “her ultimate destination was Afghanistan, where she wanted to visit her father’s resting ground to pay her respects, and work to empower women and girls.”

On Thursday, Monsef’s office revealed more information – that she entered Iran using a pilgrimage visa issued through the Pakistani embassy in Washington D.C.

Iran issues special pilgrimage visas for Shi’ite Muslims wishing to visit the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad – considered one of the holiest sites for Shi’ite Muslims.

The pilgrimage visa is issued for the single purpose of visiting holy sites and shrines in Iran. It is a single-entry visa that explicitly prohibits work or study in Iran.

The maximum stay on this type of visa is 30 days.

Monsef told local Peterborough journalist Mike Judson however that she stayed in Iran for…(READ MORE)

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