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Media platform launches new campaign to stop social media censorship of Iran’s anti-terror icon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Iran's Media Cultural Center has launched a campaign to counter Instagram and other US-based social media giants in their effort to censor the country's top anti-terror commander and icon, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone attack in Iraq two years ago.

The ‘Stop the Censorship’ campaign was launched by Tehran municipality’s Media Cultural Center with the aim of supporting the name and image of General Soleimani against censorship and other hostile actions by Instagram and other US social media platforms.

Under former US President Donald Trump’s order, the US military conducted an air operation on January 3, 2020, targeting General Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport after his arrival. The attack also killed the general’s companions, including Deputy Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Both commanders were highly popular because of the key role they played in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

The Media Cultural Center said in a report that the censorship scenario in social media platforms, especially those affiliated with the US-based Meta Inc., including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, was started by the Zionist leaders, exactly when millions of Iranians named General Soleimani a "national hero," and a "legend against terrorism and Daesh," and then began to share this with other users across the globe.

According to the report, the results of a survey by Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) showed that General Soleimani is popular with millions of Iranians. As the survey said, his popularity had risen from 73% in 2016 to 82% in 2019, the truth that sponsors of cyber terrorism knew about and were aware of. This issue became an excuse to keep the censorship scenario, which is not hidden from anyone and was featured by Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Souri, the CEOs and owners of Instagram and Meta, formerly known as Facebook.

The Center said Zuckerberg, who one day became famous as a programming genius and character of 2010, now, along with Adam Souri, plays the main role in removing the name and photo of General Soleimani under the auspices of the Zionist lobby and the US intelligence services.

The claim of the Zionist-dependent media to advocate freedom of expression was belied by deleting the name and photo of Qasem Soleimani and it "proved that they are big liars, because they cannot tolerate any comment about Soleimani from Iranian users on the social media platforms. Those who claim to support human rights cannot even stand an ordinary Instagram user,” the Center added. 

“Whenever they feel fear they remove whatever they want without paying any attention to the meaning of freedom of expression.”

The report said many cultural centers across the country condemned the Instagram action on their web pages following the martyrdom anniversary of General Soleimani, underlining that "#stop the censorship" had a special message for Zuckerberg and their colleagues to end censorship about the Iranian commander.

Mehdi Shakibaei, head of Tehran municipality’s Media Cultural Center, said the campaign has invited not only the fans of General Soleimani but also all the people and users of Instagram, Tweeter and Meta to join and share this message with such hashtags as, #stopcencorship, #ZuckerbergStopSencor and #Endcensorofsoleimani.

"Actually they are to send a message to the heads of Instagram, Meta and Twitter to explain why they pay no attention to freedom of expression,” Shakibaei said.

"Unfortunately, we see that countries that talk about freedom of expression and human rights cannot tolerate seeing the photo of a military commander who has destroyed the worst phenomenon of the century, Daesh, and anyone who upload his picture is deleted immediately. This is while the most criminal and vulgar media content is being easily disseminated on these virtual networks,” he added.

Earlier in the month, Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology urged directors of Meta and Instagram social media platforms to end censorship of written material as well as photos related to the country’s top anti-terror commander.

The call was made in a letter written to directors of Facebook and Instagram by the Iranian ministry’s director general for legal affairs, Reza Fazel, who condemned the measure taken by the two social media platforms and asked for an explanation on their illegal policy toward their users.

Following the US drone attack near Baghdad International Airport, Iran called General Soleimani’s assassination “state terrorism” and vowed to put an end to the US military’s presence in the region as the ultimate act of revenge.

In retaliation, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s western province of Anbar on January 8, 2020 for its "first slap,"as a result of which 110 US troops were diagnosed with “traumatic brain injuries.”

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