Hate speech may start with words but it can end in more than just tears – it can end with violence and even death. IranWire's "Iran's Week in Hate Speech" series tracks Persian-language social media posts and articles targeting religious groups in Iran with derogatory language, conspiracy theories and calls for violence. Our tracking is not exhaustive: we focus on influencers and websites with large followings and wide reach. The series is designed to inform the general public and to help social media companies exercise their responsibility to monitor and remove hate speech on their channels.
Antisemitic articles published in Persian across Fars News, the Young Journalists' Club and the Islamic Republic News Agency reached almost 5.7 million Iranians over the past week, according to IranWire's latest hate speech tracking report. The total reach of the articles equalled more than six percent of Iran's 88 million population.
Forty-six other instances of antisemitic hate speech posted to social media networks also reached more than 600,000 direct followers online.
The combined total – about 6.3 million viewers through direct reach alone – takes this week's IranWire tracking of antisemitic hate speech to the highest level seen in the past four weeks. IranWire's hate speech monitoring focuses on media outlets and social media influencers with large followings and excludes posts with a reach below particular thresholds.
Antisemitic hate speech nevertheless declined overall this week, with 56 percent of the 85 influential posts tracked by IranWire targeting Jews. The previous two weeks found that 65-66 percent of monitored posts featured antisemitic hate speech. Anti-Baha'i posts meanwhile increased over the past two weeks, moving from 14 percent to 16 percent and 18 percent in the latest measure.
Government-linked news outlets Fars and the Islamic Republic News Agency, in two of the articles tracked this week, reported comments by the Iranian government's legal affairs deputy, Mohammad Dehghan, regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, in which he referred to existing antisemitic tropes comparing Israel and Jews to "animals" but then offered something even worse. "No animal kills so many children," he said, while "this vile bloodthirsty criminal creature of the Zionists kills children, helpless women and people."
Comments such as these by an Iranian official affirm yet again how entrenched antisemitism, Holocaust-denial and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are embedded in the ideology and policies of the Islamic Republic. IranWire has also reported in the past on President Ebrahim Raisi's own personal record of antisemitic remarks.
The death of former American secretary of state Henry Kissinger also prompted Fars News to accuse him of being "behind all the crimes of the Zionists in the Occupied Territories for half a century."
A piece by the Young Journalists' Club (YJC) also tried to play on controversies surrounding Israel's actions in Gaza by amplifying divisions between parts of global Jewish communities and the Israeli government. The article, which reached YJC's audience of 521,000 people, called the Israeli government a "neo-Nazi political structure." And an Instagram influencer with more than 4,000 followers accused Israeli soldiers of targeting pregnant Palestinian women to "hit two targets with one bullet." And one influencer on Twitter/X targeted pro-Israel social media users by rejecting accusations that the "mullahs" of the Islamic Republic had backed Hamas and was responsible for the Gaza conflict.
Social media influencers again linked anti-semitic and anti-Baha'i hate speech. Several X posts that reached tens of thousands of direct followers, not counting its wider reach, and praised the 19th century Iranian Qajar minister Amir Kabir who ordered the execution of many members of the early Baha'i movement. The post said that Iran needed "another 'Amir Kabir' … to clean the impure generation of Baha'is from the soil of Iran," in a clear example of hate speech that is also an incitement to violence.
Other posts also conflated anti-Sunni hate speech targeted conservative Wahhabi Muslims with antisemitism, saying that Wahhabis are "from the sperm of Judaism," and that Wahhabis try to rob devout Shia Muslims of spiritual rewards.
Anti-Sunni posts rose overall in the week with 11 percent of posts monitored by IranWire identifying hate speech targeting the denomination. One Fars news article targeted Sunni Muslims in an article reaching its 744,000 readers, saying that conservative Wahabi and Salafi parts of Sunni Islam were discredited by not supporting Gaza, and that only the Islamic Republic had "come to the aid" of the Palestinians.