TEHRAN, Iran — Many Iranians welcomed President Hassan Rouhani’s recent tour of Italy and France, during which billions of dollars in deals — including the purchase of 118 new Airbus passenger jets — were hammered out. However, the hard-liners in Iran have been raging against the tour, considering it a major humiliation.
The first salvo came from historian Hussein Dehbashi, a critic of Rouhani, who penned a post on his Facebook page in which he slammed the Iranian president for appearing in a room dominated by a giant bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius at his joint press conference with the Italian prime minister. “[Roman Emperor] Marcus Aurelius [161-180] defeated Iranians in the era of the Parthian Empire. Why did the advisers of President Rouhani not pay attention to that?” Dehbashi wrote. Hard-line outlets warmly welcomed this censure, following Dehbashi’s lead in attacking Rouhani.