Detroit Free Press
Updated 3:29 AM EST Dec 15, 2019
The hard-line former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps better known for denying the Holocaust and cracking down on political and religious dissent, took to Twitter on Tuesday in support of an unlikely cause: the U-M football team.
“With a hard work ethic Inshallah the U of M will return to its glory days,” he wrote, using the Arabic term for “God Willing.”
Ahmadinejad, who banned Twitter after millions of Iranians protested his controversial reelection in 2009, has been active on the social media service since announcing a new bid for president in 2017.
Although he lost that election to the moderate incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, Ahmadinejad has remained on the service, opining regularly on domestic and foreign affairs.
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On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad seemed to discover that he could reply to other tweets. He responded to six different posts, contesting characterizations of his political record, complimenting an Iranian expat on her homemade tote bags and praising U-M.
The former president regularly takes shots at the United States, writing in January that “the American people today are captivated by selfish, ignorant and uncultured rulers.”
In September, Ahmadinejad commented on the Colin Kaepernick controversy in the NFL, writing, “The #NFL season will start this week, unfortunately once again (Colin Kaepernick) is not on a NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.”
In response, a user whose profile says they are based in Ann Arbor wrote, “Dear Mahmoud, We have much bigger problems here. #Michigan is 8-8 in its last 16 games under @CoachJim4UM . #GoBlue Also, college football is the only authentic football. Cordially, Fred.”
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The tweet went out after the first game of the 2018 season, which was U-M’s only loss so far.
More than a month later, Ahmadinejad took notice of this response and evidently decided to offer some words of support for the Wolverines ahead of their Saturday match against their archrivals at Michigan State.
Ahmadinejad didn’t say whether he would be watching on Saturday when the Wolverines and Spartans go head to head in East Lansing.
Contact reporter Marc Daalder at [email protected] or on Twitter at @marcdaalder.