Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Gets Wildly Popular Popular Facebook Page

In this Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 photo, released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader’s office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to a large group of Basij militia, not shown, during a tour of northeastern Iran. (Photo: AP)

(TheBlaze/AP) — A Facebook page purportedly created by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attracted more than 10,000 followers on Tuesday, although the site’s content and style raise a few questions about its authenticity.

Iranian authorities had no immediate comment on the site, which apparently went online last week but only recently gained prominence among social media watchers. Despite the possibility that it is a hoax, the page has generated at least 170 comments – laudatory and derogatory, and nearly all in Farsi – that highlight the deep political divisions in Iran and possibly opposition fervor from expatriate Iranians.

“You have a friend request from the Ayatollah,” FoxNews.com joked in its headline, relating a few of the comments.

“I hope one of your loved ones is killed at the hands of this brutal regime. Then you will be with us, cursing the regime,” one person wrote, though reports indicate that critical comments are being deleted.

Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Gets Wildly Popular Popular Facebook Page

(Photo: Facebook/Khamenei.ir)

One post compared Khamenei to a celebrated ruler of ancient Persia, Cyrus the Great, who significantly expanded the Persian empire 2,500 years ago.

Another wrote: “Mr. Khamenei, how are you visiting this page? With proxy?”

It was a reference to Iran’s habit of blocking of Facebook and many other Western social media sites, often condemning them as “Zionist” or “corrupt,” and the efforts to bypass the restrictions using proxy server links from outside Iran.

The U.K.’s Guardian notes that one point in favor of it possibly being real, though, is that it was linked to by Khamenei’s Twitter account, which is believed to be run by his office.

The U.S. State Department said Monday it will keep tabs on the page, but had no comment on whether it was genuine or not.  Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland joked that Washington is curious how many “likes” the Khamenei page receives.

Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Gets Wildly Popular Popular Facebook Page

(Photo: Facebook/Khamenei.ir)

But a number of things about the page – including an informal photo of Khamenei riding in a car – suggest it was not sanctioned by Iran’s top leader.

The world wide web is not unknown territory for Iranian leaders, though.

Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others have official websites. Some senior Iranian clerics also issue religious opinions by email.

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