Twitter took 17 hours to act on a tweet purportedly from Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei that threatened to assassinate Donald Trump, then only suspended the account temporarily instead of banning him permanently like Trump.
On Thursday, the account Khamenei.site tweeted an image showing a man who resembled Trump playing golf.
It is different from Khamenei.IR handle which he has used to tweet in the past.
The photo was taken from an overhead view which tossed up immediate connotations of drone strikes, the likes of which was used to kill General Soleimani on January 3.
Khamenei’s tweet roughly translated to: ‘Revenge is inevitable. Soleimani’s killer and the one who ordered Soleimani’s murder must take revenge.’
He added that it was possible ‘at any time.’
Twitter allowed the post to remain online for 17 hours before it took any action. Even then, Twitter only suspended the account and did not delete it. All of the responses to the tweet remain visible.
By contrast, Trump’s entire account was deleted over his comments on January 6 to a crowd of MAGA riots who then stormed the Capitol.
Twitter has not explained why Khamenei has been given a softer touch.
Iran ‘s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to assassinate Donald Trump in this tweet on Thursday but it took Twitter 17 hours to do anything. On Friday, they suspended his account but didn’t delete it – like they did to Trump after the January 6 riots
CEO Jack Dorsey was inundated with questions about the double standard.
‘So Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gets a pass for threatening to assassinate a former US President?’ one person asked.
Another said: ‘Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, was removed from this platform “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.
‘Today, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shared an image bearing a resemblance to Trump which calls for “revenge.”‘
Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike on January 3 last year in Iraq, which was ordered by Trump.
Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei in which he said U.S. and British-made vaccines were unreliable and may be intended to ‘contaminate other nations’.
The platform said the tweet violated its rules against misinformation.
Tensions rapidly grew between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Iran called for action and ‘not just words’ shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as U.S. president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.
Earlier this month, an arrest warrant was issued by Iraq for former president Trump in connection with the killing of Soleimani.
The warrant was issued on January 7 by a judge in Baghdad’s investigative court tasked with probing the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the court’s media office said.
They were killed outside the capital’s airport last January.
Twitter has been accused in the past of applying a double standard to world leaders and their tweets. Trump was routinely censored before he was permanently removed whereas Khamenei has not been
Al-Muhandis was the deputy leader of the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group composed of an array of militias, including Iran-backed groups, formed to fight the Islamic State group.
Soleimani headed the expeditionary Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The arrest warrant was for a charge of premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty on conviction. It is unlikely to be carried out but symbolic in the waning days of Trump’s presidency.
The decision to issue the warrant ‘was made after the judge recorded the statements of the claimants from the family of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,’ according to a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council.
The investigation into the killings is ongoing, the court said.
The killings sparked a diplomatic crisis and strained U.S.-Iraq ties, drawing the ire of Shiite political lawmakers who passed a non-binding resolution to pressure the government to oust foreign troops from the country.
Iran-backed groups have since stepped up attacks against the American presence in Iraq, leading to threats by Washington to shutter its Baghdad diplomatic mission.