Iranians hit back at Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion that they were banned from wearing jeans and listening to Western music, mocking the Israeli premier’s comments on social websites Monday.
In an interview with BBC Persian television broadcast Saturday, Netanyahu had said “if Iranians were free, they would wear jeans and listen to Western music.”
Netanyahu has sought to portray Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — a moderate elected in June — as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” in order to maintain international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
But his comments about jeans and music brought a storm of online mockery from Iranians. By Sunday a Facebook page called “Our jeans in Netanyahu’s face, Bibi watch out” had appeared, posting dozens of pictures of young Iranians wearing jeans.
Many young women in Iran wear Western clothes despite a strict Islamic dress code which requires them to cover their hair.
While some Western music, such as rap, is not available in licensed music stores, many young people download foreign artists’ work.
By Monday, the page had attracted more than 600 followers, with hundreds of comments.
“He thinks he saw our bomb but he hasn’t seen our jeans,” one user wrote, referring to Netanyahu’s repeated allegations that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, charges denied by Tehran.
“Even our ancestors wore jeans,” another netizen wrote, posting a photoshopped picture of an Achaemenid soldier from 500 BC wearing jeans.
One post showed a photograph of young blue jean-clad fighters during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
On Twitter, Iranians posted even more pictures of themselves wearing the supposedly-forbidden jeans and enjoying Western music.
One user uploaded a picture of himself wearing jeans and listening to an album by Australian pop star Missy Higgins.
“Here are my jeans and here’s my Western music, idiot!” he tweeted.
Saaman Zahedi posted a picture of himself with a friend in front of a satellite dish with the comment: “here are our jeans, Netanyahu. So shut it,” using the hashtag #jeans and #iran.
In the same BBC interview, Netanyahu said Iranâs presidential election was not free and that its people would not have elected Rouhani if they had a real choice.
Rouhani, a moderate cleric, beat his conservative rivals to win the presidential election in June.
He has pledged to reduce online restrictions so that “we are able to access these social network sites” within certain “moral frameworks.”
But on Monday Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said “the ban on networks such as Facebook and Twitter was not supposed to be lifted,” despite the presence of accounts affiliated with senior Iranian officials.
When asked about such officials, Vaezi simply replied: “You should ask them.”
On September 17, the two networks became briefly accessible, but later Iranian officials explained this had been due to “technical glitch.”
Rouhani has launched a diplomatic offensive over Iran’s contested nuclear programme aimed at assuaging fears Tehran is trying to develop an atomic bomb.
But Netanyahu has remained deeply sceptical of Rouhani’s intentions, insisting that Iran is still a major threat to the Jewish state.
Officially, more than 30 million of Iran’s 70 million population have access to the Internet.