Press TV – Iran has called President Donald Trump’s bluff on expressing support for Iranian protesters in Farsi just after he threatened to attack their cultural heritage, asking the US president not to defile the Persian language.
“Hands and tongues smeared with threatening, sanctioning and terrorizing the #Iranian nation, are not entitled to dishonor the ancient #Persian_language,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted late Sunday.
Trump’s tweet came after dozens of people protested outside a university in downtown Tehran to denounce officials’ belated confirmation of a Ukrainian passenger plane unintentionally downed outside the Iranian capital.
“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” wrote Trump.
The US president had uncharacteristically remained silent as several million Iranians took to streets for days to honor General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated on Trump’s order in Baghdad.
“By the way, are you actually “standing by” millions of Iranians whose hero you just assassinated or “standing against” them?!,” Mousavi asked.
Trump’s reference to the suffering of the Iranian people was also ironical because it has largely been caused by his most draconian sanctions on the country.
On Friday, his administration announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s construction, manufacturing, textiles, mining, aluminum, copper, iron and steel industries.
Apart from threatening to attack sites “very important” to the Iranian culture, the US president has described Iran as a “terrorist nation” and outraged Iranians by referring to the Persian Gulf as “Arabian”.
Trump’s tweet in Farsi also drew denunciation from Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi.
“The Farsi language is a symbol of the Iranian culture. Until yesterday, the repeated threat of Iranian cultural sites and today dialogue with Iranians in Persian!” he tweeted.
Iran summoned the Swiss envoy representing US interests in Tehran this month to protest against Trump saying Washington would target Iranian sites if Tehran attacked Americans.
Trump wrote in a series of tweets that “if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites”, including Iranian culture, that he said would be hit hard.
The US president’s appeal to protesters came after Iran defied those threats and made good on its promise to hit two American military bases in Iraq with a volley of ballistic missiles.
On Sunday, the Trump administration tried to stoke up and amplify protests in Iran by suggesting that the Islamic Republic was under internal threat.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper said the small protest in central Tehran which marked tearing up posters of General Soleimani showed “the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime”.
He appeared on two news shows Sunday while Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, was interviewed on three others — pressing the White House’s campaign to bring “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
O’Brien suggested that the United States saw the protests as an opportunity to further intensify pressure on Iran which is already under enormous strain from unilateral American sanctions.
The tearing up of the pictures of Gen. Soleimani has shocked many Iranians and raised question marks about the instantaneous protest which came while the nation was mourning its national hero and celebrating Iran’s retaliation.
Meanwhile, the Iranian media is abuzz with reports of British Ambassador Rob Macaire monitoring the protest from a safe distance.
Macaire was briefly arrested by security forces over his presence at the site of a protest.
He later acknowledged his brief detention in Twitter messages posted in Farsi, but denied that he had taken part in demonstrations.
“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” he wrote, adding that he left the site immediately after a number of people started chanting slogans, but was arrested half an hour later.
The Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the British ambassador to protest his unconventional behavior and participation at an illegal rally, and to remind him that such conduct on the part of a foreign ambassador runs counter to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
Also on Sunday, angry protesters gathered outside the UK Embassy to chant “Death to England” and demand the mission’s closure. Several Iranian politicians have called for Macaire to be expelled from the country.
In parliament, MP Alireza Salimi said: “It is strange that the British ambassador was present in the riots last night and finally came out of the curtain; we did not know whether the British embassy building was an embassy or a chaos command center; an embassy or counter-revolutionary organization.”
Macaire was also last week called in by the Iranian Foreign Ministry for an official dressing down over the way in which senior British politicians including Boris Johnson and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had appeared to welcome the US assassination of General Soleimani.