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Iranians mock Rouhani over explanation for no female ministers

Iranians take to social media to mock President Hassan Rouhani over his explanation for failing to abide by his campaign promise to appoint female ministers to his Cabinet.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani gestures during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX372F9

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s reasoning for not appointing any female ministers to his Cabinet — as he had promised he would in the May presidential election — has prompted a backlash from his supporters.

On Aug. 15, the moderate Rouhani defended his proposed list of ministers to members of parliament and tried to persuade them to vote in favor of his Cabinet. “I will tell all the ministers in the 12th [incumbent] government to appoint young people and women for high-level positions,” Rouhani said, adding, “I was really eager to at least have three female ministers … but it didn’t happen.” He did not explain why it did not happen.

Iranians quickly took to Twitter and other social media outlets to mock the president, launching a Persian hashtag that translates to #ButItDidntHappen to express their disappointment with Rouhani, while reminding him of the promises he made during his electoral campaign.

Manzie, a user who describes herself as a feminist, tweeted, “We weren’t supposed to be disappointed with Rouhani so soon, #ButItDidntHappen.”

Another Twitter user published a picture of a smiling Rouhani, along with the satirical quote, “I wanted to lift the house arrest [of 2009 opposition leaders] #ButItDidntHappen.”

Another Iranian tweeted, “Rouhani has learned his lesson. Every time he makes a promise, he then says #ButItDidntHappen.”

During the May presidential election, Rouhani defeated his powerful conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi by making various promises to the Iranian public, including appointing female ministers and allowing Iranians more social freedoms.

In other news, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — who appeared before parliament seeking to gain a vote of confidence for his reappointment as foreign minister — once again faced harsh criticism from hard-line members of parliament.

Mohammad Javad Abtahi, a hard-line member of parliament who belongs to the Endurance Front, slammed Zarif during an Aug. 16 parliamentary session. “If I were in the place of Mr. Rouhani," he said, "I would have changed the diplomatic team [of Iran]. … It would be better if the government chooses another team with another policy."Abtahi indicated that then the United States would become "aware that Mr. Zarif, with his smiles and his strolling" along a river in Geneva with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, is no longer foreign minister and replaced by someone such as Abtahi "who is courageous and violent." 

The hard-line members of parliament also criticized Rouhani and Zarif for signing on to the nuclear deal with six world powers, including the United States.

In response to the criticism, Zarif told parliament Aug. 16, “Iran is the only country that ensures its security through its people. … Iran is not dependent on foreign countries and doesn’t get happy about the smiles or frowns of foreign [powers].”

Zarif expressed his hope that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will remain in place as an “honorable document of the Iranian people’s resistance.” He added, “Some [countries and figures] put their utmost effort into preventing the JCPOA from taking place, and they are attempting to intensify Iran-phobia and Shiite-phobia hand in hand with Zionists.”

The nuclear deal "is the achievement of this nation and wasn’t achieved by the Foreign Ministry. Do not belittle the people’s achievement,” Zarif said in reaction to hard-liners' criticisms of the nuclear deal.

Referring to US President Donald Trump’s threat to tear up the JCPOA, Zarif said, “The US can’t forget its commitments and ignore a deal by violating it; [this] will lead to the isolation of the US.”

While Zarif defended his upcoming plans for the Foreign Ministry for his second term, one hard-line member of parliament, Abdullah Sameri, shouted at him and accused him of lying. Other members of parliament covered up Sameri's mouth to stop him from swearing and then led him outside. Sameri said he shouted because the figures presented by Zarif were far from reality.

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