The Little Boy Who Spoke The Truth On Iran’s State TV
His first name is Farnood. He looks about 5 years old. No one knows his last name. But no matter, as he's now being referred to as "Farnood the Truthful" -- and he has turned into an online phenomenon.
During a children's show recently aired live on Iran's state television, a group of young participants were asked what kind of activities they perform on their own.
Little Farnood was especially eager to answer the question. "When I go to the bathroom, I wash my pee-pee on my own," he said.
"What do you do?! You turn on the washing machine yourself?
No, no, no," said the presenter, trying to shift the conversation. Clearly taken by surprise by the honest and taboo-breaking answer, she took a few telling steps back from Farnood.
Iranian state television is heavily censored of all issues considered sensitive.
A video of the incident posted on YouTube became an instant hit in Iranian cyberspace and Farnood has become an online hero for speaking the truth. His fans say he stood up to the presenter, who can be seen as the symbol of state censorship.
A Facebook page, "Farnood the Truthful," launched to celebrate the little taboo-breaker, has already attracted more than 23,000 fans and counting.
Little Farnood has quickly provided Iranians who are not supportive of the regime with an opportunity to voice their frustrations -- and have a good laugh.
"On the one hand there is an honest little boy. On the other, an ugly woman who lies. They face each other and that is the reality of the Iranian nation. Honesty against lies. Farnood has become popular among Iranians because of his truthfulness," a woman posted on the Facebook page.
Amid similar comments, the page has been also flooded with distasteful jokes.
Many also posted comments poking fun at Iranian officials.
One Farnood fan sarcastically wrote: "Iran's intelligence minister said the fact that Farnood washes his pee-pee himself is one of the main factors of the [postelection unrest]. There are documents that prove Farnood received money from Mossad and CIA to do so."
Such accusations are often brought against dissenting activists and intellectuals in the Islamic republic.
There are also some who appeared upset by the hype surrounding Farnood.
"The people of Syria are standing up against tanks and bullets to achieve democracy. We're making fun of ourselves. Farnood is one of us. If the 20,000 fans of this page would write about the repression, things would have been different in our country," posted one user.
Another reacted by saying that what is being made fun of are "the censorship, lies, and hypocrisy of [those in power]."
Farnood has also inspired prominent cartoonist Mana Neyestani. In one of his latest cartoons a little boy wearing a green T-shirt (the color of the opposition movement) asks a member of the security forces,
"Who's next after [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak?"
"You turn on the washing machine yourself?
No, no, no!" says the security guard, who is visibly uncomfortable by the implications of the question.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari