The Iranian foreign minister’s greeting of U.S. President Barrack Obama has stirred deep hatred and anger in the Iranian administration. Iran continues to declare the U.S. their “enemy number one” and U.S. President Barrack Obama “the Great Satan” even after the U.S led a coalition of western powers to sign an accord that would see decades of sanctions lifted from the Middle East nation.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who greeted Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly has come under sharp fire in Tehran. On Monday, Zarif ran into Obama on his way out of the UN assembly, leading to what many call an “accidental” shaking of hands between the two.
The handshake was the first time a high ranking Iranian official had greeted an American president in over three decades. Iranian news agency Isna said of the handshake, “It is the first time in the history of Iranian-American bilateral relations that an Islamic republic official has met with the president of the United States of American face to face and exchanged greetings.”
Back home, however, many were infuriated by the move. Lawmakers were first to attack the foreign minister. Deputy Bahran Biranvand asked angrily before a full parliament on Wednesday, “With whose permission have they met Obama? Last time they talked to Obama on the phone and this time, with whose permission did Iran's minister shake hands with the US leader?” Biranvand was alluding to president Hassan Rouhani’s monumental telephone conversation with Obama back in 2013.
The enraged parliament would have none of it, jumping into choruses chanting “Death to America.”
A group of hardline students accused Zarif of appeasing “the Great Satan.” A statement from the students read, “You are shaking hands with the Great Satan,” while calling upon Zarif to “give answers” for his actions.
Zarif was also attacked by the Iranian judiciary’s spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie. Ejeie said, "Some spies are paid but there is another kind of spying that we have to watch out for. He prepares the ground for the enemy.
"These people would say: 'Why not allow a friendly handshake with the enemy? What's wrong with shaking hands with Obama? What's wrong with sitting with them, chatting away and drinking with them?'"
Even after signing an agreement in July that saw Iran benefit from an end to years of sanctions from the western world, Iran still maintains America as their “enemy number one.” The handshake will continue to feed into the anger of the Iranian authorities, seeping into the general public, even though it was unintentional and a reactionary gesture.