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December 19, 2012 0

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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