In a new phase of intensifying attacks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a demeaning poem was recited in his presence during public prayers marking Eid Fitr on June 26 in Tehran.
The recital soon turned into an avalanche of controversy, once again, lining up the conservatives and Rouhani’s allies against each other.
What makes this incident special is that it capped a series of recent events targeting Rouhani and his government.
Parts of the insulting poem read to Rouhani
“Thou who are sitting at the very front of the congregation
“The masses are still expecting you to do something
“The ones who are residing in their palace are going to be slapped by those who are living in shanty towns
“And the land grabbers are going to fall down and hit the ground
“Once again, the [U.S.] Senate has voted for imposing new sanctions [on Iran]
“[Therefore,] the body of JCPOA (the nuclear deal) is going to die along its spirit
“It [U.S.] took whatever possible from our money-bag
“This is [what I call] a win-win; for they [U.S.] took whatever we had, forever
“Now, it’s time for you to [resign] and sit back on your own seat
“Don’t twist the lion’s tail
“Cheers! to all those who felt our missiles [lethal impact]
“May the roars of our missiles echo in Riyadh and Haifa….”
Starting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s rebuff of Rouhani in front of his aides during a public ceremony, to angry slogans chanted against him on Qods Day, the poem is only the latest manifestation of anti-Rouhani atmosphere being created in Iran.
Nonetheless, there are major differences here. While the slogans on Qods Day were attributed to the usual “rogue elements”, the offensive poem was recited in an official ceremony aired by Iran’s state media and sanctioned by a tightly-controlled organization run by the office of Ayatollah Khamenei.
That is why many accuse Khamenei to have given the green light for the new round of attacks being aimed at Rouhani.
Another point of divergence is that the Qods Day insults accused the Iranian president of hypocrisy and compared him with the former President Abolhassan Banisadr who was sacked in 1981-- but the new poem reproaches him for corruption, incompetence and a non-revolutionary attitude. Publicly, that is.
Just as the criticisms raised by the Qods Day slogans, the crude and derisive words of the poem forced several political activists and supporters of President Rouhani to condemn it.
Tehran MP, Mohammad Reza Aref, wrote on his twitter account, “It is bad taste at its utmost, to entrust the system’s valuable tribunes, designed for propagating unity, to those who break it.”
Meanwhile, the conservatives did not stay silent as several of their media outlets defended the attacks on Rouhani.
Another dimension of what is happening now with the anti-Rouhani front is, while Rouhani’s camp can voice their displeasure with insults against the president, they cannot make the slightest criticism against anything that could be interpreted as blaming Ayatollah Khamenei. They keep complaining but the anti-Rouhani camp keeps finding new ways to push Rouhani against the wall.