But Facebook isn't the Ayatollah's first and only foray into the social media world, according to RFE/RL.org old Ali also has a Twitter account, and joined Google+ and Instagram. He also has his own fancy website- with 13 language options including Swahili, no less.
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.
But if Khamenei's latest video post is any indication, the bulk are Iranian. At least, as far as I can tell. The shared YouTube video, entitled 'New Middle East, Islamic Middle East' has over 120 FB shares, over 1,000 likes, and over 1,900 comments. It shows Condoleezza Rice in 2006 talking about the New Middle East:
"....whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one. What we're seeing here, in a sense is the growing- the birth pangs of a new Middle East."Then there's the typical anti-Israel rhetoric, through photos and news clips including the following prediction:
The issue of Palestine is an Islamic issue. Based on the Truths that Allah the exalted has ordained, there is no doubt that a new Middle East will be formed. This new Middle East will be the Islamic Middle East.This implies, no doubt, a Middle East sans Israel. Something both the Iranian government and the Palestinians have been dreaming of for decades.
There are many secular and freedom loving Iranians with Facebook accounts, and many activists armed with cellphones used Facebook and Twitter during the 2009 protests to upload videos showing the brutality of the crackdown, but posting on Facebook can get you arrested if you get caught.
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.Check out the comments, there are some in English.
Unfortunately, it looks like the new Middle East is headed towards becoming an Islamic Middle East, and I fear for Israel.