The granddaughter of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution, has created a media storm after writing a joke about the widows of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and exposing deep rifts in society still dealing with the aftermath of that conflict.
Naeimeh Eshraghi, who has closed her Facebook account, reportedly wrote comments on her page about a joke she shared with the Imam, an honorific used for Khomeini, about Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guards:
“Another joke we used to tell for Imam and he always thought it was funny. Imam Khomeini: Hey Pasdaran, marry the widows of the martyrs. I wish I was a Pasdar.”
The eight-year war, called the “Sacred Defense” by Iranians, has left a scar on the Iranian psyche, much like the Vietnam War’s impact in the U.S.
Iran lost at least half a million men, leaving many widows unable to make ends meet. Many streets in Iran are named after the war dead, and murals painted on the side of buildings depict the martyrs.
In the past few months, Eshraghi has made several Facebook entries, claiming to be related to the Qajars, the family that ruled Iran before the Pahlavis, which have caused a stir in Iran.
This time, she had gone too far.
Immediately after the Facebook comment, many Iranians shared screenshots of it and condemned Eshraghi.
“This sentence you wrote about the wives of the martyrs is cheap,” wrote Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist, living in London, who has written extensively about the families of those who were killed during the 2009 Green Movement protests against former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. “What you have written means that during the time that my own brothers and the brothers and fathers of others were at war such jokes were being told at ‘Imam’s’ house.”
Even the conservative Fars News published a letter from the son of Mohammad Ebrahim Hemat, who had died during the war, condemning Eshraghi.
He wrote: “The first thing that comes to mind when one reads her post, is that when the children of this country were being torn to pieces by bullets, bombs and mortars, the leader, at whose command many went to the front line, was making ugly jokes about them and their families.”
Although Eshraghi says someone had created and used a fake account to make the offending post, few are convinced. She has since closed her Facebook account.