How about us, Mahmoud?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unhappy that many Arab nations are participating in tomorrow’s “peace”conference in Annapolis – with one leading analyst suggesting that the real agenda item will not be Israel/Palestine, but isolating Iran – though internal dissent is growing in the Islamic Republic:

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, wanted to create a forum to trumpet his populist political message without the interference of media and opposition catcalls he launched his own blog.

But he may have failed to reckon with the merciless mud-slinging and sarcasm that characterises communication in much of cyberspace. Far from being a repository of fawning admiration, Ahmadinejad’s blog has attracted criticism as scathing as that voiced by his known adversaries.

Somewhat gleefully, the reformist newspaper Etemad reported yesterday that some respondents were venting their spleen with little regard for pleasantries.

One writer – calling himself Sadegh Al Ebrahim – sarcastically congratulated Ahmadinejad on his success in creating new jobs through last summer’s decision to ration petrol. “In our city before rationing there were two petrol stations, of which one was always shut. But now, due to you, we have 3,000 petrol sellers,” the message reads, hinting at the rampant black market.

Another, claiming to be “on behalf of the more than 50 million people who didn’t vote for you”, berates Ahmadinejad for high unemployment and high inflation. The writer says: “Instead of useless provincial trips, fake propaganda on state TV and unrealistic news fed to you by your aides, you should come to the heart of the society.”

The critical messages are counter-balanced by many others that are positive, including several that praise Ahmadinejad for his performance in September at Columbia University in New York.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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