It came as no surprise that, as soon as the Vienna nuclear deal was announced, Iranian critics of all types turned to social media sites to wage battle. Iranians argued over the pros and cons of the agreement. Experts put their cases forward. People argued, agreed, debated.
And some of the earliest and most vicious rows in Persian appeared on President Obama’s Instagram page.
Whether for or against the agreement in Vienna, both sides used every tool at their disposal to drive their point home, in English (occasionally broken), Persian (sometimes defective) and “Finglish” (Persian in Latin script, often unintelligible). People used emoji icons (all kinds of hearts and faces), swear words (think of the very worst), apologies (for the cursing done by others) and jokes (which all needed more work).
Below is a small snapshot of some of the comments. Many of the quotations have been edited for clarity and consistency.
Some Iranians wanted to thank Obama. “Dearest Mr. Obama: I admire the job you are doing,” wrote Narges. “We are so thankful that you have given us this chance. We will keep the promises we have made and will not disappoint you. Thank you so much.” There were also simpler messages, including “Thank you from Iran”, “We love you Obama” and a large number of variations on “♡♥♡”.
Fereshteh 0112 was one of the most vocal opponents of the nuclear agreement. Her comments got angrier and angrier as exchanges continued. “Has our nation forgotten so many disasters?” she asked. “We still say ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to You’.”
She also attacked those who had voiced thanks. “As soon as there is an agreement, you forget everything,” she posted. “I wish you had been among the people who lost their families and their loved ones to American stupidities.”
Someone calling herself Mary agreed: “How can I love a person who supports bombing Yemen?” she asked. “How can you love a person who is made happy by retrieving the dead bodies of women and children from bombed buildings?”
“Bravo!” wrote Rojan. “Ninety percent of Iranians are nauseated when they think about American statesmen. Ten percent are deceived by the empty and false glitter of this monster, this America. They think that Obama is somebody. No, he is just an embodiment of Satan.”
Fereshteh and others received a range of responses: some polite, and others offensive. “Fereshteh: those who lost their lives lost it because of the stupidity of the those who run the country,” read one of the more polite comments. “The people responsible for the blood of so many martyrs in the eight-year war [with Iraq] are people…who could have reached this agreement 12 years ago so that no more blood would be shed. The Iranian people — every person in Iran — did not have to suffer so much poverty and pressure.”
Another commentator accused Fereshteh of thinking like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Fereshteh stood her ground, becoming more combative. One Instagram user, Mohsen, could not take it any more. “First, get some character and civility,” he wrote. “This is not a place to talk like this. A lady like you should be treated like a dog.”
Many similar comments followed suit, and eventually, one Instagrammer took it upon himself to put Obama’s mind to rest: “Mr. Obama: We are grateful for your courage in solving the nuclear problem with Iran. This agreement has upset Iranian hardliners. You should know that they are only a small part of the Iranian nation. The country is aware of their ignorance and stupidity. They are not representatives of the Iranian civilization and thought. We regret the comments on this page. Good luck.”
Best not to Translate?
“Mr. Obama: I don’t know if Persian messages are important enough for you to have them translated,” said Ismael, also posting in Persian. “But what I want to say is that Iranians are jokesters, especially when they’re online. But all societies have social and cultural thugs, even your own society. Don’t count the ugly jokes of these culturally impoverished individuals against the Iranian people.
“Don’t try too hard to curry favor because Obama cannot speak Persian,” someone posted in response to Ismael.
Another pleaded with whomever had been assigned the job of translator: “If you are going to translate these things for Obama, please don’t translate the curses. Iranians like to joke and the words are not necessarily what is in their hearts. It is just empty talk…I’d be grateful if you do not translate everything.”
There was no shortage of jokes. “An official source announced that from tomorrow, the shops will sell whiskey and vodka instead of soft drinks and mineral water. Bravo Obi!” Undoubtedly, there will be more jokes—possibly better ones—in the coming days.
We have chosen not to reprint the most abusive comments here and, in any case, English is a poor language for translating Persian swear words.
There is, however, a silver lining to all this angry exchange. One Iranian did not miss the chance to post an advert on Obama’s page: “Follow our sexy page…You will not regret it!”This article was originally posted on IranWire.