Saturday, August 27, 2016


The Language Of Ahmadinejad: 'The Bogeyman Snatched The Boob'

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad
By Golnaz Esfandiari
In a harangue delivered to Iranian expatriates visiting Tehran last week, Mahmud Ahmadinejad resorted to an odd turn of phrase to describe the futility of Washington's use of threats and allegations against Iran.

"The bogeyman snatched the boob," the Iranian president declared.

The expression is one used by mothers in Iran when they are weaning their children off breast milk. But "mameh," slang for breast in Persian, is not often uttered publicly in a country where words and expressions of even the slightest sexual nature are considered taboo and commonly censored in books and publications.

Ahmadinejad is known for his frequent use of crude language when discussing Western countries and adversaries. But recently the Iranian president has stepped up his use of undiplomatic language, reaching new lows in the process.

Ahmadinejad didn't stop at the breast reference. Addressing the United States, he alluded to another phrase that describes angry people as having "burning asses."

"Pour the water where it burns," he said, "why are you wetting other parts?"

Ahmadinejad appeared to be enjoying himself, as was his audience, which cheered for the Iranian president and responded with laughter.

'Weak Vocabulary'

But in the days that followed, his choice of language has attracted growing criticism.

A reformist legislator, Nasrollah Torabi, said that Iranian officials -- particularly those holding top posts -- should refrain from using language that damages the country. "Weak vocabulary should not have a place in the diplomacy of the Islamic republic," he said, adding that the use of uncivilized language won't help Iran's cause on the international scene.

A video clip compiling the crudest of Ahmadinejad's comments during his speech is making the rounds among Iranians, and has been posted on blogs, websites, and social networking sites such as Facebook.

WATCH: Viral video on YouTube of some of  Ahmadinejad's comments.

The video has generated comments describing the language used by Ahmadinejad as "vulgar" and "thuggish," and as bringing shame to Iran.

A 25-year-old student in the Iranian capital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was "very sorry" and "ashamed." "This is not the language of a president," he said. "I wouldn't even say hello to someone who expresses himself in this manner."

Ahmadinejad has previously come often under criticism for his coarse language, particularly among reformist political figures, intellectuals, and members of the educated middle class who are more apt to pepper their language with passages from poets such as Ferdowsi, Saadi, Hafez, and Khayyam.

But the president's rhetoric has struck a chord among supporters and allies, including former government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham, who appreciate the dropping of formalities that impede easy communication with the common man.

Ali Akbar Mahdi, a professor of sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University, says Ahmadinejad's language does have some political appeal. "The repeated use of this language and how he's being welcomed demonstrate that some segments of society are happy that this kind of language is being used, particularly against foreign governments," Mahdi says.

'Dogs On A Leash'

In his speeches, Ahmadinejad often portrays the Islamic republic as one of the world's most powerful countries, while repeatedly stressing that Western states are helpless against Iran's advances and progress.

The Iranian president says Western powers are doomed, and have reached a standstill. He describes Western leaders as "cowards" and "liars," and is prone to using a condescending or insulting tone when speaking about them.

During a trip to Isfahan in 2009, he described the United States as a "quadruped" mired in the "region's swamp." He also had a strongly worded message for U.S. President Barack Obama: "Those who were tougher bullies, stronger scourges than you...could not do a damn thing to us."

In another speech he described countries that cooperate with the United States in pressuring Iran as "dogs" on a leash.

In early August, he referred to Israel's leaders as "stupid Zionists," and claimed they had sent people to assassinate him.

On at least two occasions -- once during a televised interview and during his speech to Iranian expatriates last week -- he used the Persian slang word for "nope," which is considered crass.

"I was talking to the head of one of East Asia's governments, he said the United States is very dangerous, meaning the politicians, and he told me I should be more flexible. After an hour and a half -- thinking he's made very convincing arguments -- he asked me, 'So, are you ready to back off a little?' I said: 'nope.'"

Exiled journalist and writer Faraj Sarkouhi believes Ahmadinejad's working-class rhetoric is aimed at awakening nationalist sentiment. "The language that is being used is simple language, language that relies on the logic of force. It's patriarchal language. It gives the right to power; not brain power, but there's a greater stress on physical power," Sarkouhi tells RFE/RL in a telephone interview from Germany. 

He says that Ahmadinejad and others like him use this language "deliberately."

"It doesn't necessarily mean that this is their culture -- but in fact they use vulgar language to create a bridge and appeal to the masses. It's a kind of demagogy," Sarkouhi says.

Ahmadinejad also directs his combative and crude language against those who oppose him domestically.

Following his hotly disputed 2009 reelection, he described those protesting against alleged electoral fraud as "dirt and dust." Later, he described intellectuals behind the growing opposition as "goats."

Mahdi said Ahmadinejad's language has led to a spread of violence in Iranian society, particularly against his adversaries. "It degrades political discourse in society. As a result, dealings between political figures and rivals is turned into a channel that is not healthy or acceptable," Mahdi says.

Increasingly, the political tension has gone beyond verbal jousting. In recent months, several political figures and clerics who have criticized the Iranian president have been physically attacked by groups believed to be supported and directed by the government. Among them is one of Ahmadinejad's most outspoken critics, reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi.

Mojataba Vahedi, a senior adviser to Karrubi who is currently studying in the United States, says Ahmadinejad's language reflects the president's personality, and the realities of Iranian political life today. "Khamenei appointed Ahmadinejad as president because he needed a thug and a segment of the society -- which I call the Ahmadinejad faction of society -- to support him," Vahedi says.

"One beats up Karrubi, another beats up the families of the political prisoners who are on hunger strike and those who gather in front of the prison to protest, and the other takes Hamzeh Karami [chief editor of a reformist website who was detained following the 2009 election and reportedly tortured into making a false confession] and tortures him to make him confess."


There are signs, however, that Ahmadinejad might now be facing a backlash over his linguistic approach.

In a first, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, a senior conservative member of the Iranian establishment, on August 8 publicly lambasted Ahmadinejad over his language.

"As a citizen of this country I expect the language and the rhetoric the president employs in his speech to be impressive, well-founded, mature, and fair. What sort of wording is this: 'Let him fill up to the point of bursting' or, 'Let him have it, he will feel the pain,'" Larijani asked, noting that he had brought the issue up with the president personally many times.

Presidential adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr has rejected Larijani's criticism in a post on his personal blog. "Ahmadinejad, with the same language that has been criticized by Larijani, is alone fighting for the rights of the Iranian people and it's no secret to anyone that his language is bothering the arrogant power and despotic [regimes] and selfish people," he wrote, adding that "grateful" citizens have praised and commended Ahmadinejad's language.

Even if that is the case, the Iranian president's recent comments have also provided his opponents with fodder for poking fun at him.

Jokes are circulating that speculate about the whereabouts of the mysterious "boob" Ahmadinejad mentioned. One joke says state television will from now on air Ahmadinejad's comments only after midnight to make sure children are sleeping. Revolutionary slogans and famous quotes have been changed to include the slang word "mameh."

Meanwhile, "We want the boob snatched by the bogeyman back," a Facebook page created in response to Ahmadinejad's comments, has already attracted more than 10,000 members, and is still growing.

All of which greatly add to the possibility that the "boob" will forever be Ahmadinejad's bogeyman.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Esther Haman from: DC
August 11, 2010 22:44
The goal for Ahmadinejad is to poke fun at the Zionists that have poked fun at him. This and the cartoons on the Holocaust web site in Iran has had its effects and that is what he wants and it has been effective.

by: Anonymous
August 12, 2010 03:39
As an Iranian, I am so sorry to see this video
In Response

by: Humanist from: Europe
August 13, 2010 11:54
I take Ahmadinejad as a very suspicious character. I observed that when Pope makes a particular statement from Western Christian perspective, Ahmadinejad repeats the statement from a Irnian Islamic perspective. I have collected a few of these. Also I have been observing Ahmadinejad's different statements and i have come to the logical conclusion that Ahmadinejad is a Westren Christian agent trying to provoke USA into attacking Ira. Hiter and Moussolini did the same. Ahmadinejad, like Hiter, is a fscist criminal repressing Iranian people.
In Response

by: Humanist 2 from: EU
August 15, 2010 04:48
A fascist indeed.... And he is a jew..
In Response

by: Esther Haman from: DC
August 17, 2010 03:33
You are sorry. You and Mr. Davood or Mr. Feridoun here are so "Westernized" that you have forgot where you are from and how someone like Ahmadunejad who was raised in poor sections of Tehran in Iran had to do to make a living or how his parents had to struggle to see him get some where. His life began in the War that you rich kids ran away from. Yes, fighting for his country. Something cowards like you guys did not experience, He talks about his days in the war that saved his country and he is proud of it and you say you are sorry? Well you are.

by: Feridoun
August 12, 2010 08:38
be Farsi yani chi?

These are important phrases for students of Persian!

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A.
August 12, 2010 16:10
It's all just a poor theatrical performance. I don't believe a word the Iranian regime says.

by: davood from: UK
August 13, 2010 14:09
He is a source of great shame for all Iranians ... nay, for all humanity.

I am stunned how some western leaders still think Iran has any hope under such creatures. Just as much stunned to see how the west IGNORES the vital need for dealing directly with the freedom movement

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
August 15, 2010 17:28
Mr. Ahmadinejad uses sexual imagery in his language because he is obsessed with female sexuality. The entire Iranian society seems to be obsessed with it. This obsession is so strong that it has simply become unbearable. They force Iranian women to wear drab colored hejab because men in general do not have the stomach to cope with their femininity. They conquer womanhood on daily bases by using crude language to name female body parts. By being crude, in their mind, they sexually dominate the opposite sex!
Mr. Ahmadinejad does not have access to women the way Western men do. He lives in fantasy and self imposed isolation. It is easier for him to lambaste the west than cope with the seductive Iranian woman. His crude language is his symbolic conquest of them! That’s all he can do!
In Response

by: Farhad from: Germany
August 15, 2010 18:52
Mr Gregory. The expression "bogeyman has taken the titty away" is not about sex. The expression means : "it is quite another story now" and not sex or boobs ! But giving the hidden meaning of the expression, won't make the article eye catching and interesting ! Instead, inserting "burning ass" in the article - though Ahmadinejad did not say it - will even make it juicier! This practice is called creative writing !
With respect, you are barking up the wrong tree and your knowledge of Iran and its cultural environment seems to be limited. Do not believe everything you read in the RFE/RL website. I am surprised that you do not see the extreme sexual exploitation of women in every aspect of life in the United States ! Look around you ! I am not defending the Islamic regime. Nor am I condoning the way Ahmadinejad expresses his views. He is a populist president and tries to talk like ordinary people in the street and not like a stateman. He has always done so .
In Response

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
August 18, 2010 14:45
“The extreme sexual exploitation of women in every aspect of life in the United States” ! Really Mr. Farhad.
We are not suffering from the exaggerated world of fantastic fantasy! Are we?

by: Astara from: Washington State, USA
August 15, 2010 18:22
I am skeptic that these were really correct quotes, being that Israel Mossad, does the translations, and certainly there main objective is clearly to bomb Iran. Repeated many times by John McCain, threatening Iran before election.

Being Israel mistranslated (intentionally), that they'd wipe them off the map. It has been corrected numerous times, however, never corrected by the western media.However, even if he did, actually say this in "Farsi", we might recall, are own VP Joe Biden, as been caught publically using the 4 letter words, frequently. I don't like it, but, he certainly isn't the first president who has. Although, they tend to avoid using such terms in public as bad PR.
Rahm Immanuel, constantly does. Several in the congress have wanted him dismissed for his style of pressure, and threatening posture towards them.

Ahmadiejad is serious about his religion, so it sounds out of character. It's pretty hard to believe on what I personally know of Muslim people, they'd find these particular terms funny. Granted they have hypocrites, too, but, Muslims tend to be far more humble as a rule, than the Jews and Judeo-Christians..
I'm not of any organized religion, and want to keep open, and unprejudiced.

As for Israel, You can be sure Netanyahu of Israel does his share, of nastry mouthing. He horrified his own people, by threatening the Palestinians that resistance would speed up their Holocaust, only in Hebrew, a forbidden term.

Most countries, including ourselves, aren't overly happy with our leaders. My father use to say when I was young, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks"! We need to begin cleaning out own house before we do others etc..

by: Amir from: Maryland
August 16, 2010 11:57
Mr. Farhad, with all due respect, are you sure you fully understand Farsi? Listen to the clip, Ahmadinejad doesn't use the expression "burning ass" but it's clearly what he means, "abo beriz ounjayi ke misouzeh", is this the language of a President? and is it proper to use the word mameh in public? I'm glad that these vulgarities by Ahmadinejad were brought to the attention of the English speaking public. otherwise as we say" Adab ra az ke amoukhti, az bi adaban". Shame on AN.
In Response

by: Farhad from: Germany
August 16, 2010 21:52
Amir. I assure you that I understanf Farsi. I aslo happen to know some 200 hundred Persian proverbs by heart, rude and polite ones. It is a pitty that Ahmadinejad used the word 'mameh' in public which seems to have shocked the West, especially the US statesmen, generals and soldiers who are renowed in the world for their civility and the politeness of character and behaviour ! I hear that the US public are also stunned because of the rude words used by Ahmainejad. With respect, you must be leading a sheltered life in Maryland ! I suggest you watch some of US films where the four letter word, and even worse than that, is used in every other sentence (if it can be called a sentence) that is uttered.
As I mentioned in my earlier note, Ahmadinejad talks like a common man in the street and it is nothing new. If you want to be an Ahmadinejad basher, then go ahead, but please do not make a lot of hue and cry about the words 'mameh' .
In Response

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
August 18, 2010 15:24
To use the word “mameh” gynecologically to describe the benefits of breastfeeding publicly in a conservative society such as the one in Iran is ok. Indeed anatomically, there is no other word for nipples. However, to publicly demean and joke about a female body part, in a society that has historically emphasized on personal etiquette and social decorum, is considered extremely rude.
Amir says he uses vulgar language. I agree! He is a crude populist president beneath the dignity of the Iranian nation!

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