Saturday, April 19, 2014


Persian Letters

State Department Sends Condolences To Iran FM Via Social Media

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during an appearance in early December at Tehran University
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during an appearance in early December at Tehran University
TEXT SIZE - +
The U.S. State Department has turned to social media to express its condolences over the passing of the mother of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. 

State Department Farsi spokesman Alan Eyre expressed his condolences over the death of Efat Kashani on his Facebook page, which has over 70,000 likes. He also shared the Internet link to his message via Twitter.

Eyre wrote that he heard about Kashani's death with the "deepest regret" and added that he prayed God might give the family "patience."

The United States has extensively used the public-diplomacy tools at its disposal to reach out to Iranians.

But Eyre's message is a rare -- perhaps unprecedented -- instance of the State Department using social media to reach out to an Iranian government official.

Zarif's mother passed away on December 27 in a Tehran hospital, according to reports in Iranian media.

In his condolences message, Eyre cited in Arabic a well-known phrase from the Koran that is often invoked when someone dies.

"We belong to God and to Him shall we return," Eyre wrote.

The message comes as Iran and the United States and its allies seek a lasting solution to the crisis over Tehran's controversial nuclear activities.

In recent months, Iranian officials have used social media sites that are blocked inside Iran to reach out to the world and prove that the tone of foreign policy in Tehran has changed since the election of relative moderate, cleric Hassan Rohani to the presidency.

Eyre's Facebook message has prompted hundreds of reactions from Iranians on social media.

"As an Iranian, I thank you for your your very diplomatic behavior and human behavior," wrote one user.

Another said: "Thank you and I would thank you even more if you could you use less Arabic words."

Among the many reactions, there is also criticism of Eyre for reaching out to an Iranian government official.

"Have you also sen[t] your condolences to the mother of Neda Agha Soltan?" asked one user in a reference to a protester gunned down during 2009 protests over the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Eyre's message has been picked up and posted on several Iranian news sites, including that of Iran's official news agency, IRNA.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wayne from: Ukraine, USA
December 28, 2013 04:24
I realize the Department of State does not hire the smartest people.

But, when you send condolences for a grieving person, it is not normal to send condolences to other people .... Sending condolences by social media was a terrible attempt at PR for State.

Most people will consider the condolences cheap at best.

Why is my government so terrible at understanding PEOPLE?

Wayne
Luvsiesous

by: an Iranian-American
December 28, 2013 16:49
Thank you, Alan Eyre! I hope Zarif will respond.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

Guerrilla Translators

Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org