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Meta bans accounts of Iran’s supreme leader, likely for pro-Hamas posts

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

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

Meta has removed accounts run by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Instagram and Facebook for posts in support of the Palestinian group Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a spokesperson for Instagram’s parent company Meta told RFE/RL in a statement.

The policy includes organizations backlisted by the U.S. government.

Meta did not explicitly reference Hamas, but Khamenei has praised the group’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 people and 253 others being taken hostage and brought to the Hamas-controlled enclave of Gaza. Israel responded by launching a deadly offensive against the extremists.

“We kiss the foreheads and arms of those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime,” Khamenei said in a speech three days after the attack.

Iran is a major backer of Hamas but has denied any involvement in the group’s attack on Israel.

Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeed Iravani, said in an interview with NBC News on February 7 that Iran has been arming, training, and “empowering” Palestinian militant groups.

The U.S. State Department in 2020 estimated that Iran “has historically provided up to $100 million annually in combined support” to Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Meta said in October that it would remove “praise and substantive support” for Hamas.

Khamenei’s office maintains several accounts in various languages on popular social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, all of which are blocked in Iran.

The Iranian leader’s Persian account on Instagram, which had more than 5 million followers, is among the accounts that were removed.

Prior to its takeover by billionaire Elon Musk, X, formerly known as Twitter, banned several accounts associated with Khamenei’s office for posting content threatening former U.S. President Donald Trump.