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FCC Chairman Says Khamenei's Tweets Violate Twitter Rules On 'Glorifying Violence'

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a live televised "anti-Zionist" speech on the occasion of the Qods (Quds) Day. May 22, 2020

The Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has suggested that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's tweets violate Twitter rules about glorifying violence.

In a tweet on Friday Ajit Pai posed the question to Twitter and posted several examples of Khamenei's tweets deemed as "glorifying violence" by him.

The tweets quoted by the FCC Chairman are all about Israel, uprooting it and destroying it. In one these tweets Israel has been rereferred to as "the Zionist regime" and described as "deadly, cancerous and a great detriment to this region". Another one also calls for the "elimination of the Zionist regime" but says that does not mean "massacre of the Jewish people"but ending the message with a call for "armed" struggle.

The White House also weighed in on Friday, highlighting one of Khamenei's tweets and saying, "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, @Twitter has determined that it will allow terrorists, dictators, and foreign propagandists to abuse its platform."

Israeli media have protested the purported lenience that Twitter has shown to Khamenei.​ The Times of Israel on Friday said despite an appeal from Israel to suspend his account over its "anti-Semitic and genocidal" messages Twitter has left alone Iran's Supreme Leader's messages.

The Strategic Affairs Minister of Israel, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Monday calling for the “immediate suspension” of Khamenei’s account over his "consistent posting of anti-Semitic and genocidal posts" and praising "terror groups including Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad" in violation of the company's policies, the paper said.

The Jerusalem Post also protested to Twitter for allowing Khamenei to threaten Israel without flagging his tweets but has censored the President of the United States.

Twitter on Friday took the step of hiding a tweet by President Donald Trump regarding the situation in Minneapolis where riots have taken place in protest to the police killing of an African American on Monday.

In his tweet President Trump called the Minneapolis rioters "thugs" and said they were dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, the man killed by the officer.

"Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," President Trump wrote in his tweet.

A Twitter disclaimer says the tweet has been hidden for violating rules against "glorifying violence". The text of the tweet can only be viewed by accepting the disclaimer. Re-tweets and comments have been disabled too.

Twitter on February 17, 2019 temporarily suspended Khamenei's account for a post endorsing the religious ruling (fatwa) of his predecessor Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. The fatwa in the late 1980s condemned the British author Salman Rushdie to death for a book called The Satanic Verses which many Muslims found blasphemous.

A Twitter spokesman said it was against Twitter rules "to make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. The account became live again after the offensive tweet was deleted.

Glorifying violent events where people were targeted on the basis of their protected characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation could incite or lead to further violence motivated by hatred and intolerance, Twitter says.

Under Twitter's "glorifying violence" policy stated on the Twitter help page, one cannot glorify, celebrate, praise or condone violent crimes, violent events where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group, or the perpetrators of such acts.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.