1. President Rouhani is big into Twitter
Or at least someone in his office is.
Since his election, Iran’s new president has tweeted prolifically —in both English and Farsi – on everything from World Cup soccer to women’s rights, from nuclear negotiations to Internet censorship.
His English language account is @HassanRouhani. It now offers one of the most telling (not to mention concise) windows into his thinking — and how the Scottish-educated cleric wants the world to perceive him.
2. This is especially interesting because social media is often blocked in Iran
Although Twitter is periodically banned in Iran, Rouhani also has a feed in Farsi (@rouhani92) for an Iranian audience, according to an administrator who responded to inquiries through the president’s official Facebook page.
Iranians seem to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with Twitter and Facebook. Both have been periodically blocked, especially around elections. But millions of Iranians use software to get around government blocks on websites and social media. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has official Twitter and Facebook accounts.
3. Rouhani is using Twitter to hint at major changes. Here are 13 tweets showing why reformers are excited:
4. He’s calling for a more cordial relationship with the United States
7. (Comparison: outgoing President Ahmadinejad claimed the U.S. orchestrated the 9/11 attacks)
8. On the economy, he’s acknowledging things aren’t good – especially for educated youth
10. He’s acknowledging that women don’t have equal rights, and says that needs to change
The new president’s tweets have supported increased women’s participation in society, including in sports. (Futsal, btw, is a form of indoor soccer.)
13. Rouhani is clear that he has no interest in developing nuclear weapons
Unlike his predecessor, Rouhani is crystal clear: under his leadership, Iran will do more to reassure the world of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
15. (For comparison, here’s what President Ahmadinejad said after kicking out IAEA inspectors)
Quite a difference, tonally.
16. He wants less censorship and more free speech in Iran
Rouhani is not only advocating for more free speech, but engaging with his followers to ask how censorship has affected them – with implied references to events like the green movement protests, which censors tried to block.
The government of Iran runs IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting), which is Iran’s news channel. Many Iranians prefer BBC or other foreign channels – and Rouhani understands why.