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June 27, 2013

Accusations of Jewish Affiliation Precede a Lynching in Egypt

Anti-Semitic posters Egypt

A poster in Egypt deriding Shia Muslims as “stooges of the Jews.”

Earlier this week, an angry mob in a small village near Cairo attacked and lynched a group of Shia Muslims, a horrific episode that resulted in the murders of four men. The incident came two weeks after posters were widely displayed in the village accusing Shia of being “stooges of the Jews.”

Members of Al-Nour Party, an Islamist party and a member of Egypt’s governing coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, reportedly displayed these posters on the walls of the village’s homes. One poster, circulated on Twitter, has the logo of Al-Nour Party on the top right corner of the poster.

The posters included images of outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is perceived as a symbol of the Iranian-led Shia expansion in the Sunni Muslim world, shaking hands with members of Neturei Karta, an extreme anti-Israel group. The photos represent an absurd attempt to demonstrate a “Jewish-Shia’a alliance” that is allegedly plotting to gain control over the Sunni Muslim world.

Two weeks after the posters first appeared, a hostile group of villagers attacked the house of a Shia family who lived in the village. Members of the small Shia community had gathered in the house to attend a religious ceremony led by Hassan Shahata, a prominent Egyptian Shia cleric. Four men were killed during the brutal attack, including Shahata himself.

Graphic images of the violence showed the mob dragging the bodies of the victims through the streets of the village while police officers watched from a distance.

A young daughter of one of the victims who witnessed the assault told a reporter from an Egyptian news agency, “Is this the form of religion they want to implement and they speak about? Even if we were Jews they shouldn’t have done this to us.”

Last week, a large billboard in Tripoli showed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with a Star of David on his turban and blood dripping from his mouth. The poster, the work of a rival Sunni group, was intended to demonize Nasrallah in the worst possible way: by characterizing him as a Jew. Indeed, linking one’s enemy to Jews is a theme of the rising sectarian tension in the Muslim world. The recent lynching incident is a reminder of the potentially brutal consequences of such accusations.

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May 23, 2013

Two AMIA Bombing Suspects Run For Iran Presidency

iran-amia-rezai-velayati

Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohsen Rezai

As the presidential election in Iran approaches in June, it is noteworthy that two candidates with links to the 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Argentina passed the regime’s vetting process and are standing as candidates for president of Iran.

The two individuals, Mohsen Rezai and Ali Akbar Velayati, have been accused of planning the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured over 250.

Rezai, a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is sought by Interpol for his alleged involvement in the case. He is currently the Secretary of the Expediency Council.

In 2006, when Velayati was Iran’s Foreign Minister, Argentinian authorities accused him of approving the AMIA bombing. He has also been accused by German authorities of planning the 1992 “Mykonos Assassination” attacks in Berlin that killed several Iranian Kurdish leaders.

This is not the first time suspected individuals linked to the AMIA bombing have run for president of Iran. In 2009, Rezai ran against current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and lost.

Under the presidency of Ahmadinejad, Ahmad Vahidi, who is also on Interpol’s Most Wanted List, was named Iran’s defense minister in 2009. Vahidi has been accused by Argentinian officials of helping plan the July 1994 attack.

In early 2013, the Iranian and Argentine governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would bypass Argentina’s judicial system and set up an international Truth Commission to investigate the bombings. While the Argentine Senate gave its approval in February, President Ahmadinejad only approved the measure on May 19 by sidestepping a vote in the Iranian parliament. The MOU stipulates that the agreement must be submitted to each country’s respective legal bodies for approval.

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December 19, 2012

Iranian Leader Embraces Social Media

There is now a Facebook page in Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s name, likely making him the world’s most socially-networked autocratic leader. The account, created on December 13, currently boasts over 16,000 ‘Likes’ and provides Khamenei with another platform to disseminate his regime’s anti-West, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic messages.

Previously, Khamenei described Facebook as a “Zionist” tool. Facebook has been blocked inside Iran since the 2009 mass protests after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Although Khamenei’s Facebook account is only days old, a video from his Youtube channel featuring images of the Star of David and destroyed Palestinian villages was uploaded to the page on December 18. The video, called “New Middle East, Islamic Middle East,” begins with a clip of former Security of State Condoleezza Rice superimposed with a Star of David. The video also contains footage of Hasidic Jews standing in front of a screen with an image of a crying child and a dead Palestinian, and a montage from a 2006 speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The five-minute video ends with a clip of a 2010 Khamenei speech in which he is presented as predicting the formation of a new Islamic Middle East and then declaring, “Palestine will be liberated” and insists that “Resistance is necessary.”

Khamenei first made his social media debut in 2009 with a Twitter account, @Khamenei_ir. The account conveys what appear to be officially sanctioned messages from the Supreme Leader in Farsi, English, Arabic and French. The tweets often make use of the regime’s typical vitriolic language against the U.S. and Israel, while praising terrorist organizations.

For example, following Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November against Hamas rocket fire from Gaza, Khamenei tweeted a gloating message in Farsi, “Who would have believed that in a war between a section of Palestine and Israel, the Palestinians would be the ones setting the conditions for a ceasefire/ Bravo to Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad.” In an English-language message in January, Khamenei tweeted, “The Zionists, Great Satan-#USA-& Western powers are incapable in facing Islamic awakening, & they’ll fail more & more.”

The use of social media has also been increasingly utilized by U.S. Government designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

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