With his rapprochement policy and chummy tweets in English, Iran's Hassan Rouhani has carved out a rather pleasant public image since being elected president last year. But don't tell that to his conservative critics in the Iranian parliament. Rouhani lashed out this week at critics of the Geneva accords as being "semiliterate," the Farsi-language Prague-based Radio Farda reported on Wednesday.
Rouhani made the remark at a gathering Tuesday in Tehran of academics and university administrators. "Why are a bunch of badly educated people the only ones speaking? Why do lecturers not speak out? History ... will not forgive them," he said.
Rouhani asked what the academic community was "afraid of," and chided unidentified elements who he said thought they were "in charge of everything" in Iran and "suspicious" of all Iranians," Radio Farda reported.
The rising tensions come as Tehran and Western powers have begun negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, which have been provisionally reduced after a first agreement reached in Geneva last month.