Iranians boycott anti-Israel protests, retweet #WeStandWithIsrael

As Iran’s mullahs failed to generate large crowds on Quds Day — an annual day of protest against Israel — tens of thousands expressed support for the Jewish state on Twitter.

By: World Israel News Staff

As lower-than-expected crowds took to the streets of Iran on Friday to mark the regime-led Quds Day — an annual day of protest against Israel — some Iranians launched a Twitter campaign to express support for the Jewish state.

Radio Zamaneh, an Amsterdam-based Persian-language station, posted a number of clips showing the low turnout of people attending Quds (Jerusalem) Day demonstrations in Tehran Friday, demonstrating an unprecedented lack of interest in a government-sponsored rally.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) noted that “state televisions were unable to show massive or relatively massive scenes of the population.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spearheaded a social media campaign under the hashtag #WeStandForIsrael, which was retweeted by tens of thousands.

“The Foreign Ministry implements digital public diplomacy in social media networks in various languages, one of them being Persian,” the ministry’s Persian digital media manager Sharona Avginsaz said.

“In the last six months our Twitter page ‘Israel in Persian,’ intended specifically for Iranian civilians, has been gaining steam,” she told the Mako website, run by Hadashot news. “We have around 60,000 followers, and our messages reach over 1.5 million people with that Twitter handle alone.”

She explained that although Twitter is banned in Iran, many Iranians have found ways to circumvent the restrictions.

“This year Iranian Twitter users informed us they intended to cause controversy [on Quds Day] with a viral hashtag that would support Israel and show that the Iranian people do not back the regime and its hatred towards [the Jewish state],” Avginsaz said.

“During this week our Twitter page reached 2.5 million Iranians. There were tens of thousands of tweets with the hashtag #WeStandWithIsrael, each stating their individual positions on why they love Israel.”

Iranians care about domestic issues, not Israel

Annual Quds Day demonstrations took place at a time when numerous Iranians have taken to the streets to protest socioeconomic problems. Strikes and rallies in a wide range of industries and locations have focused on issues such as delayed paychecks, difficult working conditions and a stagnant economy.

In one video link, described in an article that appears on the website of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), a young Iranian cleric can be seen dressed in religious garb, wearing a turban on his head. He is carrying a sign saying: “Will the day come when we demonstrate for our homeland Iran and our nation, which is suffering, and not for others?”

He shows this sign to others, who are shown walking past him blessing him, praising him and justifying him.

The JCPA article also describes how during the demonstrations, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, went out with his bodyguards to join the demonstrators for a few minutes. He was ambushed by some who cursed him, accusing him of selling out his homeland and telling him that he deserved to die.

According to the NCRI, on most of the 10 routes announced for the Quds Day demonstrations in Tehran, including the main routes, the crowd was very small.

The NCRI’s statement was carried on an opposition news site called the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

“In Azadi Square, most of the buses were empty. In many cities, even Qom, which is the centre of many governmental and fundamentalist organizations, the streets were empty,” the statement said.

“In cities such as Isfahan, Natanz, Rasht, Boukan, Islamabad West, Kashan, Saqez, Nahavand, Shiraz, Karaj, there was no news of the march, and there was a handful of people on the streets,” the statement continued.

“Only the sounds of the slogans were heard from the state loudspeakers, and people did not respond to the slogans.

“Government officials unsuccessfully tried to crowd the streets by offering free bus and subway services in Tehran and other cities, using free buses and sending revolutionary guards, basijis and plainclothes agents. The regime did not even succeed in bringing families of victims of war and other people whose livelihoods were provided by government bodies.”