As he appears to be chipping away at the decades-long, icy relations with the United States, probably the last thing Hassan Rouhani wants is a public denouncement of the Western hegemon. But that's exactly what Iran's recently elected president has to deal with, in the form of anti-American billboards plastered across Tehran.
Anti-Americanism is nothing new in Iran, given the history of harsh Western sanctions and an American call for military action against regional ally Syria. But in September, the first Tehran-White House telephone conversation in four decades appeared to be a breakthrough in ongoing nuclear weapons negotiations between the countries.
Despite that recent hope for diplomatic progress, a series of anti-U.S. posters distributed throughout Tehran by an Iranian culture institute threatened to disrupt the improving relations last weekend. Government officials swiftly stepped in to remove the offending signs.
Perhaps indicating greater fears of U.S. intentions toward Iran, the billboards depicted American officials as scheming and untrustworthy.
Associated Press reporter Mahdi Fattahi tweeted a picture of one of the anti-U.S. billboards:
US- style honesty. You can see this poster across Tehran streets: pic.twitter.com/BBuXyqk38p
— Mahdi Fattahi (@mFat) October 23, 2013
Anti-U.S. sentiments are unlikely to disappear with the billboards, though, especially as the 24th anniversary of the day enraged protestors stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 90 workers hostage approaches. And as Business Insider reports, conservative news groups in Iran are organizing the first ever "Down with U.S.A." contest, which asks participants to submit photos, videos and songs that highlight themes such as "Why U.S. is not reliable?", "U.S. & Breaking Promises" and "U.S. & Islamophobia." The first-place winner will take home €2,500.
Iran Pulse also notes that several Iranian news outlets have spoken out against the billboards' removal, calling it an act of "cultural bullying," and declaring the signs would return during the Muslim holiday, Ashura.