the story behind the hashtag “HeliKotlet”

Quickly after the announcement of the helicopter accident carrying the Iranian head of state on Sunday, some Internet users brought up this keyword from a play on words… culinary.



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Iranian President, Ebrahim Raïssi, in New York (United States), September 22, 2022.   (ED JONES / AFP)

Happy #HeliKotlet Day!“: in Iran, and more widely among the Iranian diaspora across the world, not everyone is visibly in mourning since the announcement of the death of Ebrahim Raïssi. The Iranian president and his Minister of Foreign Affairs have been killed in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran, Sunday May 19, 2024.

The death of the “butcher of Tehran” at age 63 opens a period of political uncertainty in Iran, at a time when the region is shaken by the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, an ally of the Islamic Republic. Elected in 2021, he was considered one of the favorites to succeed the Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, aged 85. And this is undoubtedly also why his disappearance is not greeted with sadness by certain opponents of the mullahs’ regime.

Indeed, quickly after the announcement of the helicopter accident on Sunday, a hashtag appeared on social networks: “#HeliKotlet”. Under the keyword, on slowed down to religious songs broadcast by state television.

Behind this hashtag, taken up massively by the Iranian diaspora hostile to the current power as well as by Israelis who rejoice at this disappearance, there is a story that is to say the least… astonishing.

If the word “helicopter” seems obvious, in reference to the fatal crash in a mountainous area near the border with Azerbaijan, “Kotlet” is, seen from the outside, more complex to grasp. To understand the play on words, you have to go… to the kitchen. THE kotlet are in fact meat and potato balls flavored with saffron, typical of Iran. This popular and relatively simple dish can be enjoyed with the family.

However, for four years, they have above all become a symbol of resistance: as noted by our Canadian colleagues from Dutythese meatballs are also at the heart of a joke – in bad taste – which circulated after the death of head of Iranian intelligence services. Qassem Soleimani, former head of the Quds Force and architect of Iranian military operations in the Middle East, was killed in January 2020 in an American drone attack in Iraq. During this “precision strike”, we find nothing of his body, with the exception of a hand, including a ring which will allow his identification. And an Iranian Internet user jokes by saying that theman, presented as a hero by the regime or as a tyrant by some, was transformed… into kotlet.

Passed under the specter of censorship, the name of the culinary specialty is whispered among the resistance before openly mocking power: in January 2023, for the three years of the death of Qassem Soleimani and in the midst of the Woman, Life, Liberty movement , an “international day of kotlet” is thrown. But the mullahs do not like this initiative and even less the mockery of the one presented as a martyr: an Iranian chef, Navab Ebrahimi, is then arrested for having published a recipe for kotlet on his Instagram account. In response, many Internet users challenged the authorities by also posting images of these now Persian cakes of anger.

A play on words today taken up by those who celebrate the death of Ebrahim Raïssi, who was considered a “tough guy” of the Iranian theocratic regime and considered by many observers as one of the favorites to succeed Ali Khamenei, 85 years old .

source site-29