In an exclusive interview with IranWire, the Iraqi poet Sayfuddin Al-Muhanna confirmed that he and his family have received death threats from followers of Ayatollah Khamenei over his position on Iran.
The scribe, who has 1,200 followers on Facebook, told IranWire Al-Muhanna that over the years he has been verbally abused and threatened by multiple supporters of the Islamic Republic. It came about because he protested the killing and disappearance of people who objected to Iran’s ongoing presence in Iraq, such as the activist Sajjad al-Iraqi.
Members of the 3,700-strong Telegram group “Youth of Islam” have variously claimed to know who his father is, and set a financial reward for information on his whereabouts via their secondary channel Sabrin News. Both of these Telegram channels are known to be close to Iran-backed militias.
IranWire has seen evidence of a recent threat issued against Al-Muhanna's family after he performed one of his poems at a festival on January 25. The poem commemorated those who died in the October demonstrations of 2019 in Iraq’s Wasit Governorate, and included a line in which the poet denounced Iran's role in "killing the youth”.
In the resultant missive, an armed group calling itself "Followers of Imam Khamenei" gave Al-Muhanna's family 48 hours to cut all ties with him. They claimed he had insulted Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and said they would take responsibility for killing him if they did not.
The poet told IranWire that his family have refused to leave, but he also warned that those who oppose Iran's policy in Iraq or Iranian figureheads "that offend the country" will face the same fate, and may even “be killed, like Hisham Al-Hashemi and others like him."
Al-Hashemi, a historian and advisor to the Iraqi government on counter-terrorism, was shot dead in Baghdad last July.
Al-Muhanna added that the radical groups have circulated his name online to find and "punish him" for what they call “the glory of Imam Mahdi." He said they are using of such terms to turn his treatment into a sectarian and religious issue and "incite people against him.”