President Trump has used Twitter to deliver plenty of bellicose messages to Iran’s leaders, who have responded with tough language of their own — sometimes tauntingly borrowing Trump’s odd style of writing.
But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen a different tack: politeness. The former Iranian president, who has a well-documented hostility toward the United States, recently addressed the U.S. president as “Mr. Trump” and asked him for a favor:
Ahmadinejad joined Twitter in March 2017, part of an aborted bid for a third term as Iran’s president. It was ironic, given that Ahmadinejad’s 2009 controversial reelection led Iran to ban Twitter because protesters were using the social media service to organize. The ban remains in effect to this day.
Still, many Iranians who have found ways around the ban — along with thousands of other users worldwide — have been drawn to Ahmadinejad’s account, where he has recently offered his takes on the most popular social media outrages of the day.
When he’s not opining on the evils of wealth gaps, the tyranny of the U.S. dollar or the greatness of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, Ahmadinejad seems to have a particular interest in the intersection of sports and politics.
Despite encouraging ultraconservative dress for women as president, he weighed in on the side of tennis superstar Serena Williams after the French Open said it would ban the style of catsuit that she wore at this year’s tournament.
And when Trump attacked LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers for criticizing him, Ahmadinejad offered Trump advice on being presidential.
Ahmadinejad has cut an almost avuncular figure on Twitter — a sharp contrast to his two terms in office, during which his government imposed reactionary social and economic policies that led to a record budget deficit, along with committing numerous human rights violations.
In his Twitter biography, Ahmadinejad describes himself as a “Husband, Dad, Grandfather, University Professor, President, Mayor, Proud Iranian.” He has tweeted less than 100 times to nearly 49,000 followers (as of Aug. 28) and follows only one other person — his own Farsi-language account.
He even uses popular social-media conventions such as “throwback Thursday” and “flashback Friday” to post pictures from his pilgrimage to Mecca and the presentation of awards to his cabinet members for their service.
Reactions to his tweets have ranged from the whimsical to profane indictments of his time in office. Ahmadinejad, for his part, seems to be reveling in the newfound attention.