Mohammed Khatami’s new macaca moment

Back in 2007, I wrote a post noting a video of Mohammed Khatami shaking hands with female supporters that had gotten the former Iranian president in some hot water. The post was titled "Mohammed Khatami’s macaca moment," but Khatami’s latest viral video sensation is actually more like George Allen’s infamous racial slur. In the video, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

Back in 2007, I wrote a post noting a video of Mohammed Khatami shaking hands with female supporters that had gotten the former Iranian president in some hot water. The post was titled "Mohammed Khatami's macaca moment," but Khatami's latest viral video sensation is actually more like George Allen's infamous racial slur.

In the video, which is making the round of the Iranian blogosphere, Khatami tells an insulting joke about Azeris. (I'm fairly sure it's the video above but Farsi speakers should correct me if I'm wrong.) This had lead to public protests in several cities by Iran's sizeable Azeri community. It's quite possible that the video was leaked in order to discredit Khatami's reformist ally Mir Hossein Musavi in the upcoming presidential election.

RFE/RL's Iran Election Diary Blog provides a translation, though I think it probably loses something from the original:

Back in 2007, I wrote a post noting a video of Mohammed Khatami shaking hands with female supporters that had gotten the former Iranian president in some hot water. The post was titled "Mohammed Khatami’s macaca moment," but Khatami’s latest viral video sensation is actually more like George Allen’s infamous racial slur.

In the video, which is making the round of the Iranian blogosphere, Khatami tells an insulting joke about Azeris. (I’m fairly sure it’s the video above but Farsi speakers should correct me if I’m wrong.) This had lead to public protests in several cities by Iran’s sizeable Azeri community. It’s quite possible that the video was leaked in order to discredit Khatami’s reformist ally Mir Hossein Musavi in the upcoming presidential election.

RFE/RL’s Iran Election Diary Blog provides a translation, though I think it probably loses something from the original:

“There was a preacher from Ardabil whose expertise was telling the story of how Fatemeh Zahra [the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad] got married," he says. "[The preacher] said that the night she became a bride, she was being taken to the house [of the groom] and the Prophet was walking in front of her, while Imam Hassan and Imam Hossein [both the sons of Fatemeh Zahra] were walking with her.”

This is way over my head but the implication, apparently, is that Azeris are slow. In any case, Iran’s reformists may want to keep cellphone cameras away from Khatami for the next three weeks.

The same blog also has a collection of (funnier) Iranian election jokes, such as the best reason to vote for Musavi over Ahmadinejad:

"He’s made anti-Israeli and anti- American comments at international venues but nobody walked out."

Update: Some further explanation from commenter Nemesida below.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.

Xi-Biden Meeting May Help End China’s Destructive Isolation

Beijing has become dangerously locked off from the world.

The exterior of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, is pictured on March 27, 2018.
The exterior of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, is pictured on March 27, 2018.

Sweden’s Espionage Scandal Raises Hard Questions on Spy Recruitment

Intelligence agencies debate whether foreign-born citizens are more targeted.

President Joe Biden gestures with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two leaders met in a hallway as Biden was going to a European Commission on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on November 15, 2022.
President Joe Biden gestures with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two leaders met in a hallway as Biden was going to a European Commission on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on November 15, 2022.

The G-20 Proved It’s Our World Government

At a time of global conflict, world powers showed that cooperation can actually work.

An illustration for Puck magazine from 1905 shows the battle against bureaucracy.
An illustration for Puck magazine from 1905 shows the battle against bureaucracy.

Only an Absolute Bureaucracy Can Save Us

The West will only restore its stability when civil servants are again devoted to the public rather than themselves.