Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political prisoner and the daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

US State Department's Instagram Post Sparks Outrage Among Iranians

Friday, 03/22/2024

Iranian social media users expressed their fury following the US State Department's Farsi-language Instagram page's decision to feature a photo of Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani as part of its Women's History Month tributes.

Hashemi Rafsanjani is a former Iranian MP turned activist – who was most recently arrested amid the Women, Life, Freedom protests in 2022, after she expressed support for the protests.

Her father, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, oversaw a long string of terrorist plots during his eight years in office. For almost 30 years he was one of the top decision makers in the Islamic Republic, even playing the key role in installing Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader. He was accused as one of the Iranian leaders responsible for planning a deadly attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1994.

Despite Hashemi Rafsanjani's recent public criticism of the Islamic Republic, Iranian social media users strongly denounced the US State Department's post featuring her – calling her a “reformist” and “regime insider”. Most Iranian dissidents view Iran's Reformists as part of the Islamic Republic and a political group that wants to save the regime.

Tagging the US Envoy for Iran, Abram Paley, social media users from different political backgrounds questioned why the US government would promote her as “the defender of women’s rights across Iran”.

Many users expressed outrage, viewing the post as a direct insult to those battling for freedom in Iran, especially Iranian women.

The State Department's Instagram page, USABehFarsi ("USA in Farsi"), appears to be directed towards Iranians in Iran, as it predominantly posts in Persian.

On Instagram, where the majority of Iranians using social media inside Iran are active, the comments were overwhelmingly negative.

Within just 4 hours of the post being uploaded, nearly 1,500 comments poured in.

Numerous users, labeling Hashemi Rafsanjani as a "fundamentalist reformist," expressed their frustration, asserting that Iranians are not merely seeking reform but rather a complete regime change.

Notably, the State Department restricted comments on its page.

This recent controversy follows days after another contentious moment for the Biden administration, stemming from the President’s New Year message to Iranians, commemorating the ancient spring celebration of Norouz.

President Biden's mention of the Gaza conflict in his statement raised eyebrows and fueled anger, since neither Palestinians nor Arabs celebrate Nouruz. Adding to the outrage, is the fact that Norouz has been celebrated in Iran for over 2,500 years – and is not an Islamic occasion.

Arash Aalaei from Iran International further highlighted that, besides President Biden, the only other world leader to include mention of Palestinians in Norouz greetings to Iranians was Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian regime.

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