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Iran Flashback: The Supreme Leader Joins August 2009

Supreme Leader on Facebook, August 2009Last week, the Western media got very excited that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, had joined Facebook. Reuters headlined, "Internet Ayatollah --- Iran's Supreme Leader 'Likes' Facebook".

The irony was too delicious to pass up: Iran's leaders deride Western social media, and authorities try to block much of it. Yet here was the regime's Top Man showing up to post nostalgic photographs of himself and his friends --- just like you and me --- and to declare the triumph of the "Islamic Awakening" (perhaps not quite like you and me).

The only problem, if you are picky, is that the story probably wasn't new. Pages in Khamenei's name have been on Facebook for years. Reuters saw a distinction this time --- this "appeared to be officially authorised, rather than merely the work of admirers" --- but Iranian media subsequently questioned if the Ayatollah's office was busy making updates and hitting the Like button.

Still, let's not let that ruin our fun. EA's moment of excitement came in August 2009, only two months after the disputed Presidential Election, when the Supreme Leader apparently descended (or ascended, depending on your perspective) on social media and we became his Friend. The page has saddenly disappeared, but we can still cherish the moment from our Archive....

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei apparently has signed up for his own page, complete with appropriately artistic photograph. Don't know if he has poked anyone yet or posted a status update, such as "Wishing Mahmoud Would Get His Cabinet in Order", but he does have 20 friends.

11 August 2009, 1735 GMTMir Hossein Mousavi is not yet a friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Are you?

1810 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei reportedly displeased that he shares his Facebook page with ads for "Prostate Treatment" and "Betfair Arcade".

1945 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei allegedly takes test, "What Sex and the City Character Are You?". Finds out he is "Charlotte". Disappointed as he wanted to be "Mr Big".

12 August, 0645 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei reported to be disappointed with score of 105 in SCRABBLE. He can't believe "KHAR" is not allowed in English version.

0745 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei has accepted our humble request, and one of our EA staff is now among his (34!) friends.

1040 GMT: Supreme Leader considering whether to click on ad on his Facebook page, "Want Six Pack Abs? Feel the burn, shed unwanted pounds, and get ripped." Not sure whether "get ripped" is good or bad thing in current political climate.

2115 GMT: Rumour that Ayatollah Khamenei worried about potential rival after discovering "Nibbles for Supreme Leader" group. Iranian forces being mobilised to stop perpetrators of this "velvet revolution".

13 August, 0745 GMT: So far the Supreme Leader has devoted himself to posting links to his past speeches. Is there a clue, however, in this Google translation of one of the entries: "Validation ceremony...Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani's death 72 years".

13 August, 2110 GMT: Supreme Leader reportedly considers "Ultimate Rock Bands" and gives surprising answer, "REO Speedwagon". Meanwhile, he issues Facebook fatwas against Al Green, Green Day, and Green from Scritti Politti.

15 August, 2040 GMT: Someone sends Supreme Leader "A Monty Python Gift" --- "The Spanish Inquisition!". Ayatollah Khamenei unsure whether this is for humour or guidance.

The Supreme Leader now has 39 friends.

16 August, 2035 GMT: Supreme Leader wants to click "Get New Nokia N97" ad on his page but worries he will put himself under surveillance.

Ayatollah Khamenei still has 39 friends.

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