Twitter Suspends Several Iranian State-run News Accounts

Iran news outlets blocked for harassing followers of the Baha’i Faith

The social networking site Twitter has responded to the harassment of Baha’is by suspending the accounts of several Iranian news agencies . The suspensions alleged harassment endured by those of the Baha’i Faith by the government.

Originally, many deduced the suspensions were due to the growing tensions between Iran and the West. Things escalated last week when Iran took control of a British tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. Twitter confirmed that the suspended accounts were because of their harassment of Baha’is.

Among the suspended accounts were state-run IRNA, Mehr News Agency, and state broadcaster IRIB’s Young Journalist Club (YJC). Mehr has called the move illegal and has said that Twitter hasn’t given them a reason for the suspension.

An interesting thing to note about the banned accounts is that they are all Farsi-based. There are also many English-language accounts which are still active. Press TV and Fars News are English-language based and are still active.

If you navigate to those accounts, Twitter will display a message which reads “Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules.”

Various sources on Twitter have said that the suspensions are a result of the targeted and coordinated harassment of the Baha’i people. Baha’is are a minority religion in Iran.

Denouncing the action, the YJC has said their only purpose is the publication of information. The agency also claims Twitter banned accounts of other Iranians. The AFP news agency has claimed that one of the suspended accounts belonged to hardline speaker Ali Akbar Raefipoor.

Twitter is banned in Iran. However, many Iranians officials use Twitter by making use of a virtual private network (VPN). There are around 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, and since the 80s hundreds of Baha’is have been murdered. Many more have been ill-treated, imprisoned, and tortured.

The constitution of Iran does not recognize the Baha’i Faith. Iran has been ruled by a Muslim establishment ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

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