Iranians, irked by Netanyahu comment, tweet photos of their jeans

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his first Persian language interview broadcast into Iran Saturday, appeared to offend many young, educated Iranians with comments that they said revealed how deeply out of touch he is with Iranian society.

While Netanyahu, in the interview with the BBC's Persian TV service, repeated familiar talking points–dismissing the power of Iran's new, more moderate president Hassan Rouhani and arguing Iran should not be allowed to retain a nuclear enrichment capability–it was his assertion that Iranians are not free to wear jeans and listen to western music that set off a social media firestorm.

Iranians inside and outside of the country took to Twitter to mock the assertion, using the hashtags #jeans and #Iranjeans to send the Israeli leader photos of themselves wearing jeans and listening to music on their Apple devices, with messages expressing both humor and offense.

Tehran-based Iranian journalist Sadegh Ghorbani took to Twitter Saturday to offer to send Netanyahu photos of Iranians wearing jeans and listening to western music on their iPhones if, as he said, Israeli spies had not been able to provide that:

Ghorbani subsequently announced on Twitter Sunday that many Iranians were using the #jeans hashtag to protest the Israeli prime minister's distorted understanding of their sartorial choices.

BBC Persian journalist Bahman Kalbasi reported both the Netanyahu interview and the on-air and social media response:

RFE/RL journalist Golnaz Esfandiari also tracked the Iranian social media response to Netanyahu's comments:

An Iranian woman using the handle @miiilik welcomed Netanyahu to her room, with a photo of a few dozen pairs of denim stacked in the center of her closet:

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Ambassador Rita: Iranian-Israeli superstar dazzles diplomatic crowd


Iranian-born Israeli singing superstar Rita Jahanforuz, on a US tour to promote her Persian language hit album, ‘My Joys,’ charmed guests at a performance at the Washington residence of Israeli Ambassador Michael and Sally Oren Monday night.

Several in the largely Iranian American audience had flown in from Los Angeles to see the Israeli Madonna, known universally just as Rita, sing the Persian hits of their youths. The crowd in the packed living room at times could hardly contain themselves from joining in, as Rita sang in Farsi and Hebrew, recalled her mother’s Persian lullabies, and cracked a couple political jokes. (“The last president I sang for went to prison,” she quipped in one such exchange, apparently referring to former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who was also born in Iran.) Amb. Oren, who addressed Rita “as one ambassador to another,” joined the band for a final number, playing the Irish drums.

Talking about a message she had received from a fan in Iran, where Rita’s albums are reportedly an underground sensation played at weddings, Rita spoke of her hope that one day Iranians and Israelis can again be friends.

“‘Rita khoshgelee (beautiful), I so want to come see your concert, even if I would receive 3 years in jail and 20 lashes,'” she cited the message, adding, “So every concert, I keep a chair open, so that Israel and Iran can one day be open to each other.”

And then she and her band took the crowd into another joyful, Persian-Klezmir-gypsy-Polish wedding frenzy.

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Egypt’s Tamer Hosny teams up with LA’s Snoop Dogg on new song

Egyptian singer and actor Tamer Hosny has teamed up with American rapper/producer phenomenon Snoop Dogg on a new song to be released this week, Al Arabiya reports.

You can see a sneak preview of the video for the song, “Si L Sayed,” above, which was filmed in Los Angeles and posted by Hosny to YouTube this past spring. Continue reading