Days after being grilled by MPs, embattled Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s tribulation is widely reflected on social media.
Rouhani, being summoned to the parliament for the first time in his five years of presidency, had previously promised to seize the opportunity to “share truth” with the nation.
Nevertheless, activists on social media, including dozens of his supporters, believe Rouhani not only failed to convince the parliament but also failed to share any particular truths with the nation.
Defending his cabinet's performance on August 28, Rouhani claimed the economic troubles only began when Washington re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.
Rouhani also said, "Be aware that sabotage creates destruction. Be aware that painting a bleak picture of people's lives will lead to further darkness."
As soon as he reiterated that he hoped to succeed in convincing MPs by following the special guidelines set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, all expectations of hearing any “particular truths” from him died down.
The president’s performance was so weak that one of his pro-reform supporters, Tehran’s outspoken representative to parliament, Mahmud Sadeghi, tweeted, “Rouhani’s weak, conservative, and obscure responses neither convinced his opponents nor encouraged his supporters. The questioning MPs, following the leader’s directives, pushed Rouhani into a corner. It appeared Rouhani was enchanted and defeated by their tactics.”
Rouhani’s failure to apologize for his administration’s shortcomings also faced a backlash from social media users.
A university political science lecturer well known for not mincing his words, Sadeq Zibakalam, heckled Rouhani on Twitter, saying that while the country is struggling with a water shortage crisis, the president has somehow managed to carry a bucketful of pure and cold tap water to the parliament and poured it with a rarely seen courage and bravery over the flames of people’s expectations.
Former interior minister and pro-reform political activist Mostafa Tajzadeh also criticized Rouhani.
By expanding on the reasons behind Iran’s challenging problems and the real “elements” responsible for them, Tajzadeh said that Rouhani could have raised the level of people’s awareness and by doing so benefit from the public’s assistance in neutralizing the hidden government’s negative impact on the country’s affairs, as well as U.S. President Trump’s greed.
A former students’ rights activist and U.S.-based self-exile, Ali Afshari, said that the parliament’s response to Rouhani’s defense went farther than giving the embattled president a yellow card.
According to Afshari, MPs’ response to Rouhani amounted to a death blow.
“In real terms, Rouhani lost the match against his own supporter. He is finished, [since] he neither has any plan and the necessary will to address the problems nor the power to resist Khamenei,” Afshari tweeted. “A significant number of the voters are left dumbfounded for being deceived [by Rouhani] and longing for the end of the nightmare of the term of a talkative and sermonizing cleric-president.”
Pro-reform mid-ranking cleric and former deputy president for legal and parliamentary affairs Mohammad Ali Abtahi accused Rouhani of being tricked and called upon those involved in politics to learn from the incumbent’s experience.
In his tweet, Abtahi blamed Rouhani for refraining from any serious explanations while sufficing to deliver a sermon on the virtues of unity.
Many social media users went further by accusing Rouhani of being more concerned about his own political future than his commitment to serve the nation.
Several Twitter users, including prominent journalist Yashar Soltani, insisted Rouhani resembles two notorious historical figures whom Shi’a believe cheated their first imam, about 1,400 years ago.
Others took the chance to sarcastically compare Rouhani with politicians such as Winston Churchill.
Referring to part of Rouhani’s address to the parliament, one of the high officials of his predecessor’s administration, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, tweeted, “Do not worry about the unity [of the people]; it has been years since people know that you are all together, disregarding the people’s ideals and values.”