Iran: Anti-US Billboards Removed

Government’s apparent attempts to quiet anti-U.S. rhetoric angers supporters of hard line.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Supporters of hard-line anti-American policies in Iran were caught off guard this week when authorities ordered that anti-American billboards be removed just days after they went up, reported the Washington Post.

The new government’s “apparent attempts to quiet anti-U.S. rhetoric” have “confused and angered supporters of hard-line conservatives,” the newspaper says.

The billboards were in line with long-held policy in Iran, where the United States has been known as the “Great Satan” since the 1979 Islamist revolution, and Israel as the “Small Satan.”

The billboards featured an English-language slogan, “The U.S. Government Styles Honesty” [sic]. They showed a goateed Iranian official, presumably meant to resemble Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, sitting across from a American counterpart who, under the table, conceals symbols of aggression.

In one poster, there is an attack dog under the table; in another, the American is wearing military fatigues under the table and a coat and tie above it.

The Post says that the decision by Tehran’s municipal government to order the removal of the billboards is “shocking” to some hawkish conservatives. Hossein Shariatmadari, editor in chief of the hard-line daily Kayhan, published an editorial Sunday expressing disbelief at the decision.

“It seems that some of those close to Rouhani are so angry about the anti-U.S. billboards, challenging the idea of ‘U.S. honesty,’ it is as though the producers of the billboards have insulted their dearest and most sacred beliefs,” Shariatmadari wrote.

Iran is to hold a new round of talks on the issue of its nuclear weapons program with six world powers in Geneva on November 7-8. This follows a round this month that resumed long-stalled negotiations.