Iran’s Rouhani Stokes Domestic Backlash With Attack on Critics

Iran’s Rouhani Stokes Domestic Backlash With Attack on Critics
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, June 14, 2014 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi).

In an address to Foreign Ministry officials on Aug. 11, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not hold back his frustration with critics who have regularly slammed his administration’s nuclear negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, known as the P5+1. Sharply deviating from his usual calm and moderate tone, Rouhani told his critics to go “to hell.”

“Some people deliver slogans but they are political cowards and as soon as there is talk of negotiations they say ‘we’re trembling,’” Rouhani said. “Go and find a warm place for yourselves,” he added. “God has made you fearful and trembling.”

That language, not surprisingly, sparked a backlash and harsh media response in recent days. Conservative parliamentarians, who have frequently criticized Rouhani’s foreign and domestic economic policies, were quick to react. They have not only reiterated their skepticism about the negotiations with the P5+1 but have also accused Rouhani of being intolerant and disrespectful of his critics.

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