Iranian Leader Embraces Social Media

  • December 19, 2012

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).