Leonardo DiCaprio

How Leonardo DiCaprio became unlikely champion in Iran

Iranians were elated when they discovered that actor Leonardo DiCaprio had shared on his Instagram account a photo of Iran. DiCaprio, a champion environmentalist, republished The Weather Channel’s photo of drying Lake Urmia to bring attention to climate change. What he didn’t know was that so many Iranians — at home and abroad — would show an outpouring of love and support for his small gesture of raising awareness of this issue.

The Instagram post went viral, receiving more than 313,000 likes and 117,000 comments, including, “Leo thanks for being concerned about what’s happening all around the world especially my motherland Iran, it’s truly humbling” and “Iranians appreciate it. Love you Leo.”

“What Mr. DiCaprio did is praiseworthy,” Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Iran, told Al-Monitor. “And it is important because as a result of his action to publish the picture a vastly larger number of other people on this planet now know about this problem. This will bring a sense of hope that others might get more involved to support efforts to overcome the Lake Urmia challenge and other similar challenges in Iran and beyond.

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This article was written by Holly Dagres for Al-Monitor on May 20, 2016. Holly Dagres is an Iranian-American analyst and commentator on Middle East affairs. Currently living in Egypt, she is the assistant editor at the Cairo Review of Global Affairs.