Obama Depicted on Huge Billboard in Tehran

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 20 2013 2:21 PM

Why is President Obama Depicted on a Huge Billboard in Tehran?


The anti-Obama mural went up next to Tehran's busy Valiasr Square

Propaganda billboards are a common sight in Tehran but they’re usually devoted to ayatollahs as well as honoring “martyrs” of the Iran-Iraq war. There are a few anti-American billboards as well but they’re the exception and foreign politicians are almost never put on display. That’s why it caught the eye of Iran watchers when an Iranian website posted pictures of a huge mural in a busy section of Tehran that shows President Obama standing next to Shemr, a villain in Shia Islam. Below them is a quote: “Be with us, be safe.” The Guardian’s Roland Elliott Brown writes a fascinating explanation of this “high-context” propaganda and how it should be interpreted.

The bottom line? “Anyone who still likes Obama in the wake of tightening sanctions—or who advocates meeting American, EU, or International Atomic Energy Agency demands over Iran's nuclear program to avoid conflict—is a traitor to the faith. Obama, the state insists, is a ‘Hussein’ unworthy of loyalty.” 


Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.


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