Within the space of a few weeks, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, an Iranian vice president, opined that the British were “inhuman” idiots saddled with a dunce of a prime minister, and the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, scoffed that the Americans should “pour water where it burns”, a vulgar Iranian expression that refers to people who are so angry that their buttocks catch fire.
A hardline Iranian newspaper joined the fray by branding Carla Bruni, France’s first lady, a “prostitute”.
It is nothing new for the Iranian regime to lambast the West in robust terms. But these various diatribes raised eyebrows at home and abroad because crudity rarely features in Iran’s political discourse.
Analysts say that while Mr Ahmadinejad’s earthy rhetoric against the West upsets educated Iranians and reformists, it is a populist attempt to appeal to his working-class supporters as a man of the people possessing a common touch.
“The language used by Ahmadinejad may not be deemed proper for the president of a country, but it brings him closer to his base, who find him affable and to be one of them,” said Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii.
Mr Ahmadinejad’s invective against the United States is also an attempt to deflect attention from bitter political in-fighting between Iran’s conservatives and does not mean he is slamming the door on nuclear talks, other analysts say.
“Despite his tough language against Washington, Ahmadinejad is on the record as supporting unconditional talks with the five-plus-one powers on the nuclear issue,” Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Birmingham University in England, said in an interview.
The P5+1 is shorthand for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France – plus Germany.
The vicious slur against Ms Bruni, the wife of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, came last week in Kayhan, an influential ultra-hardline daily close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who appointed its managing editor.
Kayhan targeted the “infamous” Ms Bruni after she penned a passionate open letter of support to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 43-year-old Iranian mother of two sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery.
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