Rafsanjani denies closing his social media accounts

The office for Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani denied that he would be closing his social media accounts after criticism for a tweet.

al-monitor A March 23 tweet by the office of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reads, “The world of tomorrow is a world of discourse, not missiles.” The tweet triggered severe backlash from Iranian hard-liners, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo by Twitter.com/rafsanjani_fa.
Arash Karami

Arash Karami

@thekarami

Topics covered

twitter, revolutionary guard, public relations, islamic revolutionary guard corps, hashemi rafsanjani, ballistic missiles, ayatollah ali khamenei

Apr 6, 2016

The office for Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani denied that the chairman of the Expediency Council would be suspending all of his social media activities after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly criticized his tweet on Iran’s missile program.

“Unfortunately, in the last few days untrue articles and news was published quoting an anonymous advisor to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani in the media,” read the statement from Rafsanjani’s office April 6. The statement continued that any comments attributed to an adviser to Rafsanjani anonymously and without a full name is unreliable, and if any advisor does make a comment to the media, it is their own personal opinion and not related to Rafsanjani.

The statement also stressed that any official position or news of Rafsanjani is either published through his office or through the public relations department of the Expediency Council, and it criticized the media for writing news about “one of the highest-ranking officials in the country” without first verifying it.

Quoting an anonymous adviser, Iranian media outlets reported April 5 that all of Rafsanjani’s social media accounts would be suspended until there is proper review process for publication. The reports said that the Instagram, Twitter and Telegram accounts for Rafsanjani were run by the editor of his website and were not coordinated with him.

The public fallout over Rafsanjani’s social media accounts stems from a March 23 tweet by Rafsanjani’s office, which read, “The world of tomorrow is a world of discourse, not missiles.” Many viewed it as criticism of the test firing of ballistic missiles by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier in March. On March 30, Khamenei, without mentioning Rafsanjani by name, said during a speech that if anyone knowingly undermines the country’s missile program in such a manner, it is “treasonous.” After Khamenei’s speech, Rafsanjani’s office revised the original tweet, saying that it was an incomplete version of his statement.

On April 4, Rafsanjani then personally addressed the controversy. Rafsanjani said that after he inquired about the tweet, his office determined that it was based on a comment he made in November 2008 to filmmakers from the Netherlands about the use of chemical weapons against Iran.

In response to specific groups or officials taking advantage of the tweet to attack him, Rafsanjani said, “If the public does not know, officials — especially the military officials — know well that the missile industry started from zero during the [Iran-Iraq] war when I was in command.” He continued, “It was reinforced later under my presidency, and I have always emphasized the necessity for strengthening Iran’s missile project as a defensive and deterrent power.” According to Rafsanjani, the first missiles were made by the post-revolutionary organization Jihad of Construction and the Revolutionary Guard.

Perhaps alluding to people attempting to use the controversy to cause friction between himself and Khamenei, Rafsanjani said, “I’ve said this many times, both as a principle of velayat-e faqih we must support the supreme leader, and as the person of the [supreme leader] we did not and do not have anyone better than Ayatollah Khamenei.”

Despite Rafsanjani’s attempt to clear up the confusion over the tweet, some Iranian officials have continued to indirectly criticize him. Former Intelligence Minister Hayder Moslehi said April 6 that questioning Iran’s defensive programs is not new. Moslehi compared them to Abolhassan Banisadr, who was Iran’s first president after the revolution but was quickly impeached and later fled into exile where he continues to criticize and speak out against the Islamic Republic.

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