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Iranian supreme leader’s French Instagram page suspended temporarily by ‘mistake’

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wears a protective face mask, with Khamenei asking Iranian people to wear a protective face mask against coronavirus COVID-19 on June 30, 2020 Tehran, Iran. (Salampix/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

An Instagram page in French affiliated with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was suspended for several hours on October 30 following the Iranian leader’s message to French youth, in which he equated denying the Holocaust with perceived insults against Prophet Muhammad.

A spokesperson with Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, told RFE/RL that the page had been removed by mistake and not due to its content.

“This account was mistakenly removed…and is now back on Instagram, ” the spokesperson said in an email on October 30.

“We’re sorry for the mistake and for any confusion caused,” they added.

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Iranian media had reported earlier that the page had been blocked after posting Khamenei’s message and that a new page for the Iranian leader had been launched as a replacement.

In his message published on October 28, Khamenei criticized French President Emmanuel Macron‘s defense of the right to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims consider disrespectful and blasphemous.

Macron has defended secular values following the killing of 47-year-old schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded after showing the cartoons as part of a civics class at school.

Khamenei said Macron’s move was a “stupid act.”

“Does freedom of expression mean insulting, especially a sacred person?” Khamenei asked. “Isn’t this stupid act an insult to the reason of the [people] who elected him?” he added.

“Why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust? Why should anyone who writes about such doubts be imprisoned while insulting the Prophet is allowed?” Iran’s highest authority said in his written message that was published in Persian, French and English.

The message was posted on Khamenei’s website as well as on Twitter, filtered in Iran, where it was met with criticism for promoting “anti-Semitism.”