A photograph of yourself smiling on a motorbike next to the remains of a bombed out Syrian city is probably not a snap you’d want broadcast around the world.
For organisers of the Tehran Book Fair, however, it’s a souvenir to treasure.
Scores of attendees at the annual Iranian event had pictures taken next to a recreation of a destroyed Syrian city yesterday, in photographs that were published by Iran’s government news agency IRNA .
Iranians taking photo with ruines of Syria,in Tehran International Book Fair's "Shrine Defenders" section,9 may 2016 pic.twitter.com/NctVyeZ4sD— گزارش جنگ سوریه عراق (@warreports) 9 May 2016
To fit with the bombed-out remains, participants also donned military gear, sat astride a motorbike, and occasionally even used a grenade as a jolly prop.
The pictures were taken at a photobooth that IRNA described as allowing visitors to have a “digital and spiritual photo” – one of several attractions at Tehran’s 29th Book Fair. The event takes place annually in Iran’s capital, and this year Russia was named as its “guest of honour”.
IRNA described the snaps as the “photobooth of the Defenders of the Shrine”. The term refers to Shi’te fighters trained and deployed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the Sayyida Zaynab Mosque in Damascus, which is said to contain the remains of the daughter of Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Taleb. The cousin of prophet Mohammed, he’s considered the rightful successor to the Prophet by Shi’a Muslims.
Many tweeters – both from Iran and abroad – were unimpressed by the show of insensitivity.
Iranian famous cartoonist Mana Neyestani on photos with Syria ruins:"To defend the shrine,Take a photo with Assad" pic.twitter.com/6N0r1BwCe3— گزارش جنگ سوریه عراق (@warreports) May 10, 2016
Although Iran largely denies direct involvement in Syria,lawmakers admitted that soldiers had been killed and captured by rebels in the country earlier this week. Iran has close ties with Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria.
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