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Media In Iran Edit, Delete Khamenei's Latest Comments

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting with Iranians from the East Azerbaijan province, in Tehran, February 18, 2019
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a meeting with Iranians from the East Azerbaijan province, in Tehran, February 18, 2019

Iranian news outlets were busy "censoring", or "rephrasing" the latest comments made by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

During a meeting with hand-picked people from the province of Eastern Azarbaijan, northwest Iran, Khamenei had initially said on Monday, February 18, "The enemy's ballyhoo should not dishearten the [Iranian] authorities".

The comment was later changed into "These clamors originate from weakness and should not dishearten the authorities or mislead some youth."

While using the edited version in its report on the meeting, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps-run Fars new agency (FNA) has left the initial comment on its Twitter account.

"These first-class half-witted idiot statesmen of America get furious, bang their heads against the wall, and hold a conference in Warsaw. Such ballyhoo should not dishearten the authorities [of the Islamic Republic's]," Fars news reflected Khamenei's remark on its Twitter page.

The Fars tweet that shows Khamenei saying, "The enemy's ballyhoo..."

Another state-run website, Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) initially quoted Khamenei as saying, "America's enmity towards Iran is obvious. Our enemies' unclean hearts are full of enmity towards the Islamic Republic ... our officials should not be deceived by the Europeans ... don't be fooled by Europeans."

The Persian term Khamenei used for “unclean” has a Shi'ite Islamic connotation of meaning “untouchable”, such as an infidel or an animal.

The remark was later changed by ISNA into "I’m not telling the officials what to do, but I’m advising them to exercise caution [in dealing with Europe] so that they will not be tricked by them and cause problems for the country.”

Iran is currently holding talks with the EU for the launch of a trade mechanism that promises a continuation of trade with the Islamic Republic in the face of US sanctions, as a means to convince Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal despite Washington's withdrawal from the agreement back in May.

The aging Supreme Leader who faces multiple crises also urged government and state officials to “distinguish friends from foes”, saying that even the enemy’s smiles are not to be trusted. This comment was also replaced by a milder remark, "The strategy of the U.S. is clear, as it is brazenly expressing hostility, but there is a need for vigilance in dealing with the Europeans because they [might also] behave deceptively."

Furthermore, another part of Khamenei's speech was totally omitted in its final edited version in the Iranian news outlets.

"Some people, who benefit from the country's peace and security enjoying their jobs and their favorite sports, bite the hand that feeds them”, should know that security is obtained by current policies of the regime, Khamenei had initially noted.

Nonetheless, the comment was later totally left out of updated news and reports.

Khamenei comment about those who bite the hand that feeds them, later deleted from media reports.

Apparently, Khamenei was referring to two former and current soccer superstars who had harshly criticized the recent remarks made by Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

While insisting that he is "proud of defending the people of Palestine", Zarif has recently admitted that "Today, we are all under pressure”. This was seen as alluding to economic hardships people are enduring in Iran.

A day later, former superstar of Bayern Munich and Iranian national soccer team member, Ali Karimi, responded by demanding on his Instagram page, "Which 'we' are under pressure Doctor [Zarif]? Strictly speaking, 'you', or 'us'"?

Karimi's fellow footballer, Voria Ghafouri, also lambasted Zarif directly by asserting, "You are not under pressure. As a matter of fact, it is the ordinary people who are under pressure."

Defending his comments, Ghhafouri, regretfully said, "Some of the authorities add salt to injury by their remarks."

Hours after Khamenei's speech on Monday, Iranian news outlets reported that the Ministry of Sports' security department has summoned Ghafouri to explain his comments against Zarif.