While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced concerns lately over Iran’s diplomatic offensive to build warmer ties with the U.S., his latest comments on Saturday about Iranians not being allowed to wear jeans were perhaps not his finest moment.
In an interview with British Persian-language television, Netanyahu talked about the need for Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, but his statements were overshadowed by his comments on freedoms allowed to Iranians by their government.
“I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections,” Netanyahu said in the interview, which was dubbed into Persian and released late on Saturday, according to Reuters.
The statement sparked reactions from Iranians who published pictures of themselves on Twitter on Sunday wearing jeans addressing their posts to Netanyahu's official Twitter account, saying he was out of touch with Iranians.
“Mr. Netanyahu, here is a shop selling weapons of mass destruction in Iran,” one tweet read, showing a picture of a denim shop originally published by an Iranian semi-official news agency, according to Reuters.
“Netanyahu, three days ago I bought a pair of jeans,” another Iranian user tweeted.
Although Twitter is blocked by a government filter in Iran, many Iranians access it through special software to bypass the block.
Netanyahu in his interview also criticized the censorship of social media and satellite channels inside Iran as well as the government’s treatment of women and gays.
“This is not what the Persian people deserve,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Israeli PM also said the elections that brought Hassan Rowhani to power were not free and that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini holds the real power over the nuclear program.
“I would welcome a genuine rapprochement, a genuine effort to stop the nuclear program - not a fake one. Not ‘harfe pooch,’” Netanyahu said, using a colloquial Persian phrase meaning “empty words,” according to Reuters.