A poster on the Rouhani administration's Twitter page featuring a picture of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the slogan "We shall survive," has elicited a wave of anger and criticism on the Persian-language social media.
The poster, published on the administration's twitter page, @PadDolat, quotes part of a sentence from Zarif's interview with the Guardian in which he said Iran will not only survive the newly re-imposed US sanctions but it will thrive.
“We will certainly survive. We will not only survive – we will thrive. We have tried to minimize the impact on the population, but the ordinary people are going to suffer, the economy is going to suffer,” Zarif had said in the interview on November 19.
The Rouhani administration's media team came under attack by critics who asked why they are publicizing the optimistic part of this message while the nation is under economic pressure.
The critics referred to the privileges individuals linked to officials, particularly reformist figures, are enjoying and they made sarcastic comments about what Zarif had reportedly said.
Iranian journalist Mehdi Afrousmanesh tweeted, as though an official was speaking: "We shall survive together with the minister's son who became an adviser to another minister. With the son of an MP who became a sports manager. With a minister's daughter who ended up in the list of those who won the election. With the son of an official who lives in a penthouse in New York. We shall certainly survive and see our grandchildren's progress."
Afrouzmanesh also retweeted a tweet by political activist Hassan Zeidabadi who had revealed, "On Thursday, Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand appointed…the son of the Interior Minister…as his adviser. However, he omitted part of the new adviser's name", to conceal his true identity and family link.
Some of the tweets under the Persian hashtag "We Shall Survive," made references to the situation of quake-stricken people in Kermanshah. A user tweeted a picture of people in the area hit by earthquake, and said, "Don't worry for us. We have nothing to lose. We shall survive."
Haj Fidel (alias), another Twitter user commented about the same earthquake survivors, "Thanks to the government's prudence, the people have been living in tents since last year to make sure that casualties would be limited to a minimum in the next jolt."
A large part of tweets with this hashtage in Persian contained swear words that showed the extent of anger and frustration among social media users about the way the poster had portrayed Zarif's remarks.
Among those with milder sarcasm, Ajibzadeh commented that "those who wanted to turn the White House into a stable, wipe Israel off the map and had the illusion of turning Iran into the world's most developed country by 2065, today take pride in being able to survive!"
Another twitter user, @MehdiMMG, referred to Iranian officials' comments about annihilating Israel and wiping it off the map, and wrote: "When you set a deadline for annihilating another country, at least make sure that you are not going to say two months later that you would survive, as that is laughable."
Angrier social media users promised, albeit with less polite words, that they would survive to celebrate the end of the Islamic Republic.
Among Iranian journalists who reacted to the poster and Zarif's comment, were Reza Haghighatnejad, who pointed to an earlier remark by Zarif who had said that what Iranians are experiencing is the outcome of their own choices. In other words, they have chosen to live in hardship.
Maziar Khosravi, another journalist in Iran, said, "No, Mr. Zarif. We shall not survive as long as a person travels to Canada to give birth to her child there and another person whose children are hungry has to face imprisonment and the anti-riot police."
Yet another journalist, Ali Farahani in Iran, wrote, "The situation is so critical that as a journalist you don't know what to write about so that you wouldn't end up in court."
Within a day, the number of critical tweets and comments about the poster and Zarif's remarks were on the rise. Social media users in Canada subtitled and tweeted an interview with Zarif which included his remarks about survival. The government's twitter account, then copied the video, explaining that these were original comments by Zarif which referred to the survival of Iranians through several millennia.
"We have survived for seven millennia. …we have survived and we have progressed. We have made progress in many areas. Of course, we are behind others in some areas. There has been pressure on Iran. There are economic problems. There are economic hardships for our population. Sanctions, as you know, always target ordinary people. At the end of the day those are the people who suffer from sanctions. That is the purpose of these sanctions and previous sanctions. We have been under sanctions for 40 years. But the depth of our history gives us this perspective that we should not submit to bullying," Zarif said in the video.