Tensions between Iran and the United States have been resurgent in recent weeks. As a result, The Economist had predicted that “this year’s annual rally to commemorate Islamic Revolution Day on February 10th in Tehran looks set to be one of Iran’s biggest.”
But according to The New York Times, “given the size of the rally in Tehran [last week], the usual anti-Americanism appeared less noticeable than in previous years.” As reported by The Times, “Iranians on social media had asked people not to burn flags, but instead to thank American protesters for standing up to Mr. Trump’s targeted travel ban and for defending refugees, students, tourists and others affected by the executive order.” In a speech at Tehran’s iconic Azadi Square, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated that “we are not after tensions in the region and the world.”
Tehran’s response to the Trump presidency can, thus far, be characterized as largely reactionary, something that is reflected in the timeline of events following the U.S. administration’s January 27 immigration ban against nationals of seven Muslim majority countries, including Iran. Shortly after the directive was announced, Iran’s foreign ministry reciprocated with its own ban against U.S. nationals.
As a result of these circumstances, an American freestyle wrestling team that had planned to attend an international meet in Kermanshah, Iran, was barred from entering country. “We don’t think politics (should) have any role in this. But, unfortunately, sometimes you can’t control that,” USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender told the AP.
Following the court ruling suspending #MuslimBan & the requests from Iranian Wrestling Federation & FILA, US Wrestlers' visa will be granted
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 5, 2017
But following the February 3 decision by a U.S. federal judge to temporarily block Trump’s order, Iranian officials announced that the American team would be granted visas to participate in the competition. Earlier this week, the U.S. team arrived in the western Iranian city, where they were given a warm reception by fans, which was shared on social media.
— World Wrestling (@wrestling) February 13, 2017
Much like the February 10 rallies in Tehran, the crowds that gathered to welcome the U.S. wrestling team looked beyond Trump’s xenophobia to express appreciation for those Americans interested in building bridges, not walls.