Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has once again caused a stir by mocking those opposed to his administration’s policies.
Speaking to banking and financial officials about bringing inflation down to single digits after it had been close to 40% before he took office in 2013, Rouhani said, “This great achievement must be protected.” Suggesting that some individuals may be trying to undo this, he added, “Of course, I am not unaware. Some, with the excuse of opposition to the administration, damage the hope and future of the people; of course, these actions are due to lack of reason.”
The accusation that critics or the opposition “lack reason” may seem like a mild insult in English. However, in Persian the term has a much more negative and insulting connotation. Conservative news websites used the term in their headlines. Fars news agency’s headline about Rouhani’s speech read, “Rouhani once again insulted his critics.” Other conservative sites just used Rouhani’s own words as their headlines.
Tasnim news agency compiled a list of 54 insults that Rouhani has used against his critics. Even media outside of the country took notice of Rouhani’s comments. BBC journalist Mehdi Parpanchi tweeted a number of insults Rouhani has used against critics in addition to the latest one, including “semi-literate,” “backward,” “delusional” and “unemployed.”
While Rouhani was speaking about those who opposed the administration’s actions in lowering the interest rate, many people took the insult as directed toward all of his critics. Fars news agency also used the opportunity to contrast the insult with a speech by Rouhani in 2014 in which he said, “The administration will deal with honor with all who agree, support, criticize and even oppose. Even if some don’t speak toward the administration with honor, our words with them will be polite and respectful.”
In the full context of the speech, Rouhani was clearly addressing those who were attempting to counter his administration’s policies and who have suggested that inflation should be a secondary priority and not a primary one. However, Rouhani still had harsh words for opponents, saying, “Fighting against the administration means fighting against national interests and damaging the hope and trust of the people.”
Rouhani’s concerns are that those who work against the administration’s policies would erode public trust. “The people’s hope and trust in the Central Bank has increased in comparison to previous years,” Rouhani said. He attributed this increase in trust to the Central Bank’s more precise numbers and international banking relationships.
During the speech, Rouhani also touted other economic achievements of his administration, such as increasing the export of oil from 1 million barrels per day to 2 million barrels per day, attributing this to the efforts of the country’s negotiators, a reference to the nuclear negotiators. Under the nuclear sanctions, countries that purchased oil from Iran were encouraged to incrementally decrease their imports. It was not until after the nuclear deal that Iran’s exports increased.