Advisor denies Hassan Rouhani's Rosh Hashanah tweet was genuine


Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, takes the oath of office.


Atta Kenare

Jews around the world, or at least on Twitter, got quite a surprise on Wednesday when an account under the name of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted a happy new year greeting.

“As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah," the tweet said.

It was accompanied by a photo of an Iranian Jew praying at a synagogue in Tehran.

A few hours later the message was joined by a tweet from Iran's new foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

The tweets were seen as a sign of the softening rhetoric of Iran after the departure of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called the Holocaust a "fairy tale."

But now a presidential advisor is claiming that the original tweet did not come from Rouhani himself.

“Mr. Rouhani does not have a tweeter account,” presidential adviser Mohammad Reza Sadeq was quoted by Iran’s Fars news agency as saying.

Sadeq implied that the Twitter page wasn't run by Rouhani himself, saying “proponents and fans of Mr. Rouhani were active in the cyberspace during the recent presidential election in Iran and used many web pages with titles similar or close to Mr. Rouhani to run their activities."

He also stressed that the only official messages are "released by the presidential office."

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According to the Associated Press, the Twitter account is semi-official.

During the election, it was operated by Rouhani's campaign staff. The account has remained open since his election, but it's not clear who is actually running it.

At least Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, told a local news site late Thursday he did wish the Jewish community a happy Rosh Hashanah.

When Christine Pelosi, daughter of US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, replied to his tweet with "The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir," Zarif responded with: 

Zarif told the local website, "We never were against Jews. We oppose Zionists who are a minority," according to the AP.

He was quoted as saying, "We have condemned killing of Jews by Nazis as we condemn (the) killing and crackdown on Palestinians by Zionists."

Agence France-Presse noted Zarif is a Western-educated moderate who served as an ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier this week, he departed from the tone set by former President Ahmadinejad by saying Tehran condemned the Holocaust.

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