By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
"Ties between Iran and America are ties between the oppressor and the oppressed," reads a banner in Anar township in the province of Kerman. The banner is apparently part of an anti-U.S. campaign by hard-liners in the Islamic Republic concerned by recent overtures between Tehran and Washington, which they consider to be a betrayal of revolutionary principles.
However, the banner, which was supposed to convey anti-American sentiments, actually states the opposite message, as a news blog in Anar rightly noticed:
"The sentence [on the banner] means that Iran is the oppressor and America is the oppressed," writes "Anarpress," which posted a picture of the blundering banner.
Those behind the banner were apparently trying to paraphrase an anti-American comment made by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini. Ayatollah Khomeini was quoted in April 1979 as saying: "Our relations with America are the relations of the oppressed with the oppressor."
It is not clear whether the banner has been removed from Anar.
A number of anti-American banners were reportedly taken down around the Iranian capital, Tehran, over the weekend.
Hadi Ayazi, a spokesman for the Tehran municipality, was quoted by the news agency IRNA as saying a cultural institute had installed the billboards without the consent of city's cultural council. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said earlier this week the billboards had been put up illegally.
The banners depict an Iranian official sitting across the table from his American counterpart, who is pictured holding a shotgun and other symbols of aggression under the table.
"American Honesty" declared the banners in Farsi, which apparently aimed to give the message that the real intent of the United States was to take military action against Iran. The banners popped up in Tehran shortly after a new round of talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva that was positively assessed by both sides.
The hard-line Fars news agency and other hard-line media reported that some banners were installed in the city of Mashhad. Fars, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Force, later reported some of those billboards had been taken down.
Other hard-line websites, including "Rajanews," reported that new anti-American billboards had been installed in other cities, including Shiraz and Shahrekord.
"Rajanews" posted pictures of what it said were anti-American billboards in Shiraz.
Banners that read "Death to America" picture a burning U.S. flag or clasped fists.
Those banners come ahead of next week's "Grand Day of Death to America," set for November 4, which coincides with the 34th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
But that event has been met with recent calls to drop the "Death to America" slogan, which has been chanted for more than three decades at state events, including Friday Prayers.
Hard-liners, including commanders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), reject those calls and have said that the chant will resonate across Iran on November 4.
Tehran's Provisional Friday prayers leader, hard-line cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, said on November 1 that the Islamic Republic would continue talks with the United States simultaneously with using the slogan "Death to America."
"The representative of the European Union say they pursue talks and [exert] pressure at the same time, [so] we too [will] push ahead with talks and the 'Death to America' slogan at the same time," Ayatollah Khatami was quoted as saying by state media.
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