Hardliners hurled eggs and a shoe at Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani as he returned from New York, in protest against his historic telephone conversation with US president Barack Obama.
The phone call – which was the first between the two countries’ presidents since the 1979 Islamic revolution – was the culmination of a week of unprecedented diplomatic encounters on the sidelines of the UN general assembly to help resolve the nuclear crisis.
Carrying “Down with US” placards and chanting “National interests cannot be achieved with compromise and surrender”, a few dozen protesters who said they were university students were furious at the centrist president for making direct contact with Iran’s arch foe – the US.
They took aim at Mr Rouhani with at least three eggs and one shoe – none of which hit him, with the shoe flying over his head – as Iran’s president was waving from a black convertible car rolling through a few hundred of his supporters chanting “Rouhani, thank you”.
Iran’s centrist president was elected in June after he promised to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis and help ease international sanctions that have fuelled economic problems, notably inflation of at least 39 per cent.
Tensions heightened at Mehrabad airport when the president’s supporters tried to stop protesters.
“There is no medicine, why don’t you understand,” shouted one angry man at the anti-president crowd accusing them of defying the miseries of people who struggle with shortages of pharmaceuticals and the rising cost of living.
“Why are you discrediting Iran and our president after everything he has done,” another supporter of the president shouted, as security forces were pushing him away to avoid fighting between the two sides. “You are only making Israel happy now.”
But Morteza, a law student, said: “We are not radical. We are only saying that Libya packed up its nuclear programme and surrendered but the US did not give it even one grain of wheat in return.”
Another young protester was arguing with the president’s supporters that there had been no need to talk to Mr Obama at the last minute when everything had already gone well. “What was the meaning of that last wink at Obama,” the young man was shouting, accusing the president of “begging” the White House to call him.
One protester, asked if he had thrown eggs at the president, said, “I didn’t, but anyone who did it was right.”
Such protests are not usually spontaneous, rather they are used as a lever of pressure by hardline organisations.
The protesters, at least one of whom was arrested by security forces, got into a state-owned blue public bus. “Get lost Sassies,” one protester told the pro-president crowd before getting on to the bus.
Related. Read: Iran Has Hardliners Too
September 29Read the full article...