Iran,  Social Media

Khamenei on Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may be a Zionist “who offered a prize for Israelis who kill Palestinians.”

And an Iranian military parade may have featured a placard warning of the “damages of the Facebook internet site.”

But that hasn’t stopped Iran’s oh-so-hip Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei from signing up for his own Facebook page.

Golnaz Esfandiari at Persian Letters writes:

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 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.

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.

I’m sure the Big Guy would be happy to read any comments you care to post on his page about the Islamic Republic’s arrest and torture of dissidents, criminalizing of homosexuality, crushing of free trade unions, treatment of minorities, attitude toward Jews Zionists, support for the Assad regime in Syria, employment of George Galloway, etc., etc.

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