Friday, October 31, 2014


Persian Letters

Iran's Supreme Leader Joins 'Zionist' Facebook

In step with the times? A photo from the "Khamenei.ir" Facebook page shows current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (with glasses) behind Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (front with white beard).
In step with the times? A photo from the "Khamenei.ir" Facebook page shows current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (with glasses) behind Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (front with white beard).
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is arguably one of the world's most-wired authoritarian leaders.

Already active on microblogging site Twitter, social network Google+, and photo-sharing network Instagram, Iran's supreme leader has now joined Facebook -- which has been blocked by Iranian authorities and demonized as a "Zionist" instrument and a tool of "soft war" against the Islamic republic.

The "Khamenei.ir" Facebook page, which was launched on December 13 and publicized on the supreme leader's Twitter account, has so far been liked by more than 3,000 users.

The Facebook debut is the latest move by Khamenei's media-savvy Internet team, which spreads his "ideas and personality" in several languages in cyberspace. The team is also behind Khamenei's sophisticated Khamenei.ir website, which is available in 13 languages.

Khamenei's Facebook page is likely to stir up controversy and raise eyebrows among the millions of Iranians who must access Facebook through antifiltering tools and proxy servers.

Iranian journalist Hadi Nili says the Islamic establishment uses different means to spread its message and reach out to supporters around the globe.

"For the same reason that Iran launches the English-language PressTV or a Hispanic TV station for Spanish speakers or Arabic channels," Nili says, "it uses Facebook and Twitter, which are cheap and easy to use."

Nili believes Khamenei's page is more likely to attract foreign viewers than Iranian Facebook users, who might not give it such a warm welcome.

Many of Iran's Facebook users access that social network to connect with each other, discuss taboo issues such as state censorship or news related to the suppressed opposition movement, or engage in online campaigns in support of political prisoners.

During 2009's antigovernment street protests, activists used Facebook to publicize amateur YouTube videos and other materials that documented the brutal state crackdown they faced.

Those activities are seen as a threat by Iranian officials, who have already targeted a number of activists over their Facebook posts. Blogger Sattar Beheshti, who last month died in custody, was reportedly arrested over his Facebook activism.
Technicians monitor data flow in the control room of an Internet service provider in Tehran in 2011.
Technicians monitor data flow in the control room of an Internet service provider in Tehran in 2011.

Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official with the state-run body in charge of online censorship and computer crimes, said earlier this year that posting materials on Facebook that are considered immoral, contravene sacred Islamic principles, or disrupt security and peace is considered a crime.

Khamenei's Facebook page so far has just four posts -- including a photograph of a young Khamenei walking behind Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran (pictured above). The posts have received positive comments but also criticism targeting Khamenei and his state policies, including online censorship.

"Praise to Khamenei, Death to those against velayat-e faqih ("guardianship of the jurisprudent")," writes one supporter in a reference to the notion of "guardianship of the jurisprudent" under which Khamenei rules.

Another praises Khamenei for joining Facebook, which he says could be a venue for reaching out to Iranian youth. He notes, however, that the page should be unblocked inside Iran.

"God willing, by removing the filtering from this site and the presence of more officials, and accepting the conditions of the youth, the path for the country's future could become bright," he says.

There are more calls for an end to state filtering on Facebook.

"Is [Ayatollah Khamenei] also using antifiltering?" one user asks sarcastically.

"...You've done a great service to Iran and that is the spread of corruption, prostitution and lies," writes another.

It's not clear whether the Facebook page's administrators will allow such comments and criticism to appear on the page in the future. Criticism of Khamenei -- who holds ultimate political and religious authority under the Iranian Constitution -- is considered a "red line" in the Islamic republic, and those who cross it can end up in jail.

"Can we insult here?" asks one user who appears to be referring to the charge brought against those who have been jailed for challenging Khamenei.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 17, 2012 20:58
the implicit irony of the image hints at the similarity between the orthodox Jewry in the 19th century in Eastern Europe and some shia and even sunni religious figures.
except for the peyes (sidelocks) in jiddish and the hats in the hassidic movemont this image undoubtedly resembles some of the respective photographies from Poland, for instance.

interesting also that some fanatics in the jewish community resemble some fanatics in the Muslim community:
separation of men and women, danger of contamination by non-believers or fear of non-believers (meaning non-Muslims or goyim, respectively), belief in the superiority of the respective religion and people, sometimes an explicit hatred against women and femininity, itself in all its dimensions, whatever that may entail. anyway, interesting, interesting though how much resemblance in terms of regulations and prescriptions with respect to womens' freedoms or rather non-freedoms. (this aspect applies to radical christian sects, as well.)
yet, of course, fortunately not all of the followers of these movements indulge in such radicalism.

by: Matthias from: CT
December 17, 2012 22:00
I always wondered: When there are these calls of "Death to those against velayat-e faqih..." or other, similar "death-to-s", are these meant literally, or is there some metaphorical meaning that gets lost in the translation into English?

And if it is meant to be taken literally, how do those people see themselves as constructive members of the global community which has literally Billions of people not sharing their beliefs? And how to they expect those sentiments not to induce "phobias" to them and their compatriots or fellow believers? Or is creating fear and apprehension, indeed, the intended outcome?
In Response

by: fe from: teh
December 19, 2012 12:37
creating fear and apprehension, indeed, the intended outcome.
and yes, i'm an iranian man, so i know what i'm talkin about!

by: beancube from: Seattle WA
December 17, 2012 22:29
Iranians should start to order and distribute their wireless handheld smart devices and communication infrastructures worldwide so nobody can block your voices against Zionists and CIA.
In Response

by: fer from: teh
December 19, 2012 12:49
iranians cant do anytin without importing everything from abroad
and if there were no oil and its income
their voice never heared
so be realistic and don expect mullahs to spread their words

by: Father Mother God from: Celestial infinity
December 18, 2012 00:44
Dear Faithful Follower of Mohammed,

I AM that I AM says... I do not MY children to destroy each other...Satan has deceived ALL of you who desire to have justice as you see it. Come to the table of together and clear your minds of the past...start again with innocence and I will FORGIVE ALL of you...the anger and revenge must stop...I AM the judge of the world, I decide what is right and wrong...I see ALL of you as MY children misunderstanding each other....put away the weapons that kill....ALL of them! The earth is MY thought...I think, create and it becomes life, the universe is MY thought I sustain it with my perpetual thoughts of LOVE, I know and see ALL....I LOVE ALL of you....I constantly give you life. Sacrificing your lives for stubborn argument is an act of insult against ME. Stop your plans of revenge...Heed MY instruction to you...I will send MY angel Messenger to ALL of you, you will know him by the white stone he will carry that bears an old name that I and he only know....once you have begun to show ME your sincere respect and desire for LOVE and PEACE.

In Response

by: WASP from: Loony bin
December 18, 2012 11:58
Aaah,is that angel messenger our beloved Hillarious Hillbilly Clinton-da next prezident of da United States??? Will Good old mr.Jim Carry the torch of the arab springers unto Syria and Iran as well??? Well,only Jack and Eugenia know the answers and I`m sure they`ll tell us as soon as they get over their hangover!!!

by: Delaram from: US
December 19, 2012 02:54
What hypocrisy! What nerve! Attempting to block the Iranian people's access to the outside world on one hand, then fully using those same venues for their own agenda. Social media is only "un-Islamic" when it suits them. Under the mantle of free speech, we will allow a cruel dictator with the blood of his own people on his hands use Facebook as a public forum to feign morality and garner support. It's truly revolting.

by: Frederick Melick from: Sydney
December 20, 2012 21:38
Lets hope he doesnt just post pics of food,im sure he is a real laugh a minute.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

Guerrilla Translators

Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org