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The visit of the former Iranian president, the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on October 17, to the Dubai World Expo where he had his picture taken with several young women, did not go unnoticed, either on social networks or with the Iranian authorities, who did not appreciate his approach. And it even gave rise to intoxication: no, he did not visit the Israeli pavilion.

This is the first visit to a foreign country by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since his term in office ended in 2013. Came to the Arab Emirates to participate in a conference at the Dubai World Expo, which is being held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, he was photographed with his wife, some Iranian political figures … and pretty strangers.

“Do you find a friend who looks at you like these women look at Ahmadinejad”, quips this Iranian on Twitter.

These photos have been taken up by Iranian Internet users, who are astonished at this “reformed” image of one of the most religiously radical presidents since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Others are rather confused by the participants’ willingness to pose alongside the former head of state, wondering if these people “know who he is”.

“Some Iranians still took photos with him,” said this American-Iranian journalist.

Visiting the Israeli pavilion?

But an image of Mahmoud Ahmadinajed with a young white woman with brown hair particularly caught the attention of the Persian-speaking and Arabic-speaking public. It was relayed by the Twitter account @Terror_Alarm, which advertises itself as an independent media outlet based in Jerusalem, Israel, with the caption: “Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad, now a reformist figure, visits the Israel Pavilion at the Dubai Exhibition.”

Screenshot of the tweet causing the rumor, deleted from the @Terror_Alarm feed. © Twitter

Several accounts picked up the information in English, Arabic and Persian, questioning the political horizons of the former president, known for his positions openly hostile to the Hebrew state.

During his two mandates, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had taken very strong positions against Israel, comparing it in particular to “a cancerous tumor”.

But in several articles and images that document Ahmadinejad’s visit to the Dubai Expo, there is no photo or indication of a possible visit to the Israel Pavilion.

The rumor was quickly dispelled by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, saying the photo was not taken at the Israel pavilion, but at the Vietnam pavilion on October 13. Information confirmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry October 17.

A visit under the Iranian radar

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit ended prematurely, under Iranian pressure. According to Iran International media, the Iranian Consulate canceled a press conference scheduled by the former president for Sunday, October 17, before the visitor returned to Iran the same evening, earlier than expected.

According to the agency considered to be affiliated with the Iranian state Fars, the Emirati authorities “asked Ahmadinejad to leave the territory urgently” without giving reasons.

Iranian religious figures, such as the Hojatoleslam Abbas Amirifar, felt that Ahmadinejad wanted “to be in the spotlight again” and that the visit was “a way of attracting attention. [des médias] on him ”after he“ disappeared from the political scene ”.


France 24-Trans

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