A photo of Qasem Soleimani’s daughter holding the latest iPhone 13 has led to a storm of criticism that overshadowed the second anniversary of her father’s death.
Hundreds of social media posts scorned Zeinab Soleimani for brandishing a phone that costs more than ten times the monthly salary of an ordinary employee in Iran while the Islamic Republic based its propaganda on Qasem Soleimani’s modest lifestyle.
To make matters worse, pictures of Zeinab's cell phone surfaced on social media on the same day the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader called on the nation to avoid buying expensive American cell phones.
Both opponents and loyal supporters of the Islamic Republic asked why Soleimani's daughter should buy a cell phone which is expensive and manufactured by a major US company. A new iPhone is an item that most young Iranians should wait years before they can afford it, wrote moderate Rouydad24 website in Tehran.
In a bipolar situation on cyberspace, some Iranians criticized Zeinab for undermining her father's ideals and the regime's anti-US slogans. "If America is bad, why do you buy their cell phones,” they asked. Those at the other political extreme argued: "Iranian people have nothing against the people of America. US government's policies are bad, but the companies are privately owned."
Zeinab has kept silent about the controversy, but some hardline supporters tried to argue that the picture was photoshopped. Others proved them wrong in a matter of minutes using pirated cutting-edge software.
Some hardliners said the handset was a gift from Zeinab's husband, a Lebanese Hezbollah member. Opponents said if the husband could afford that, it means Iran’s money to the militant group is spent on personal luxuries.
Some other hardliners responded that Zeinab should nonetheless respect her father's ideals, adding that the picture has deeply disappointed the supporters of the Islamic revolution. Still others tried to defend her by claiming that the phone belonged to the young lady standing next to Zeinab in the picture.
Some social media users published pictures of Zeinab in other locationswith the same handset to prove that the phone belonged to her. However, most of those who criticized Zeinab, had nothing to say against the expensive phone. It was the hypocrisy and double-standards of some Iranian hardliners they were criticizing. Some people still remember that Iranians on social media lashed out at the hardlliner editor of Kayhan newspaper Hossein Shariatmadari a few months ago in his office where he wrote articles against the United States using the latest Apple computer.
Some Iranian social media users highlighted the luxurious lifestyle prevalent among the clerical community of Iran. This group of users mentioned the affluent lifestyle of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's family and others, including owning expensive phones
Some other social media users asked if there is nothing wrong with purchasing US-made productss, why Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned COVID-19 vaccines from the United States last January.
Observers say Zeinab and her sister Narjess are certainly controversial figures to watch and follow. Narjess stirred controversy with her candidacy for Tehran City Council, although her father had barred her from running for political office when he was alive. Zeinab also created another controversy recently by reportedly donating $2 million to promote temporary marriage among Lebanese Shiites.