When Jannati retreated in the face of pressure from hard-liners and called off concerts to respect the views of conservative clerics, he found himself at odds with the president. In a public speech in August, Rouhani voiced his dissatisfaction with Jannati’s performance by saying, “A minister should abide by the law and not succumb to any form of pressure and retreat.”
This is while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, some senior Shiite clerics and other influential clergymen have expressed displeasure with the cultural situation in the country. In a meeting with lawmakers June 5, Khamenei said, “I feel that there is a sense of indifference both in producing useful cultural goods and preventing harmful cultural goods.”
As such, it appears that Jannati ultimately became the scapegoat in the political struggle over the direction of the cultural scene in Iran. This is while some public figures, such as prominent Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam, believe that Jannati could in fact have shielded Rouhani against increasing pressure from hard-liners in the cultural arena, given his pedigree. Of note, Jannati is the son of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the hard-line head of the Guardian Council.
Moreover, the Ministry of Culture is not the only authority responsible for dealing with cultural issues, and thus the culture minister cannot solely be held accountable for issues in this arena — a point that Jannati himself raised in his resignation letter. In addition, Rouhani knows full well that when it comes to domestic politics and cultural issues, the balance of power is not in his favor. Thus, it appears that to show tactical flexibility, Rouhani decided to change the pieces in the game as the only possible approach.
The dismissal of the sports minister may have been due to pressure on social media, since some experts thought Goudarzi’s performance was good. If Instagram was filtered or if the president did not have an official Instagram account, Goudarzi might have been sitting comfortably in his chair right now.