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Meta removes Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei's Instagram accounts

Persian and English accounts belonging to Iran's supreme leader were disabled on Thursday afternoon
Ali Khamenei's Persian-language Instagram account prior to being suspended (MEE/Alex MacDonald)

Meta removed Instagram accounts belonging to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Thursday following months of pressure from pro-Israel groups.

Khamenei's Persian-language account had more than 5.1 million followers, while his English-language account had more than 204,000.

“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy," a Meta spokesperson told Middle East Eye following the accounts' removal.

Under the policy, Meta removes "organisations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence" from its platforms.

There have been repeated calls from Iranian opposition and pro-Israel campaigners to ban Khamenei's social media accounts, particularly in the wake of the 7 October Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel.

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Although both Iran and the US have denied the Islamic Republic had any involvement in the attacks, Khamenei has been accused of praising the incident - which left around 1,140 people dead - on social media.

He has also publicly supported Palestinian resistance against Israel's bombardment of Gaza as well as attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Khamenei, who has been in power since the death of his predecessor Ruhollah Khomenei in 1989, previously had accounts suspended on Instagram in 2019, but they were later restored.

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Meta was previously caught up in controversy in 2023 over the Iranian ruler after it said it would be allowing the popular anti-government slogan "Death to Khamenei" to be posted on its platforms.

The move came in the wake of mass protests across Iran over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini following her arrest for "inappropriate hijab".

Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have been banned in Iran for many years, though users have got around the restrictions using VPNs.

Despite the ban, a number of Iranian officials - including Khamenei - have had accounts on the platforms.

Mohammad Marandi, an academic and former Iranian government advisor, accused Meta of hypocrisy as he said Israeli officials had not faced similar restrictions over their support for their country's actions in Gaza.

"Many thousands of Iranians, including myself, have had their Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended or deleted. So this isn't unexpected," he told MEE.

"Ayatollah Khamenei is the only world leader that supports and empowers the resistance in Palestine. That is his crime."

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