Meidoon Trend Watch: Khomeini

Post-mortem, on Twitter

The 3rd of June, 2015, marked the 26th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the leader of the revolution that saw the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty.

Leading up to the anniversary of his death, one by one the news surfaced: news of the closure of an Instagram account dedicated to Khomeini, revelation of his extravagant shrine, protests erupting at Rouhani’s speech at his shrine. The coincidental alignment of this anniversary with the birthday of the 12th and absent Imam Mahdi (an occasion of celebration amongst Shia Muslims) and the long weekend that capped the week, all came together to make for a “newsfull” week, with a generous touch of humour.

Meidoon Trend Watch takes a look at some of the stories that shaped the trends in the past two weeks.

In Numbers

26 years have passed since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, but he is nonetheless alive and well amongst the waves of trends on Twitter. An analysis of Farsi language tweets surrounding the anniversary of his death returned over 9K tweets in the span of 15 days .

Volume of tweets, May 22- June 5, 2015. Source: Crimson Hexagon

A steady rise in tweets about Khomeini and the anniversary of his death peaked at 2400 tweets, which was followed by a steep drop in the conversation, once the occasion had passed.

Number of authors and average number of posts May 22-June 5, 2015. Source: Crimson Hexagon

The number of authors tweeting about Khomeini also reflected a similar pattern: a continuous rise and a sudden fall after the anniversary.

Top mentioned hashtags. Source: Crimson Hexagon

The hashtag #خمینی (#khomeini) was used in more than 700 tweets. Other hashtags trailed behind with almost half the tweets.

Iran, U.S.A. and Norway were the top tweeters in the conversation, respectively. Source: Crimson Hexagon

A Palace For a King

By Tooka Neyestani

The week saw a numerous reports focusing on Khomeini. Of note were the sounds of criticism by the public and even some conservative authorities and newspapers(!) about the expansion of Khomeini’s shrine.

Would Khomeini, a man that prided himself on being modest and simple approve of a such a grande structure being built for him ?

That was the question on many people’s mind on Twitter, who expressed their confusion about the not-so-austere revamp of Khomeini’s shrine (dubbed by some to be the most opulent mausoleum). In our 15-day analysis, the top retweeted tweets were dedicated to this controversy:


This is neither Niavaran, Golestan, Saa’d Abad palaces (former royal palaces) ; This is the tomb of the founder of the Islamic Republic


Deutsche Welle’s gallery of images from the revamped shrine.


Mausoleum of Khomeini, the most opulent mausoleum in the world, resistant to magnitude 10 earthquake, with four gold studded minarets, the leader of the oppressed

Read more about this story, here.

In line with the times: Khomeini’s Instagram account shut down

On Sunday May 31, reports surfaced that an account dedicated to the Late Khomeini was closed down by Instagram , for inappropriate/offensive content. The account had gathered a commendable following of 100K + users, and featured rare pictures of Khomeini.

Fars News Agency, a domestic news agency of Iran, has reported that owners of the account made a number of attempts to get in touch with Instagram, but to no avail. A new account was set up in the meantime, which garnered 24.9K followers.

It only took two days before Instagram reopened the old account, which now stands at 110k+ followers. It was reported that the reopening of the account was due to the wide coverage of the news of the initial closure and complaints submitted by avid followers of the late Ayatollah.

Presidential Speech Disrupted: Khomeini’s supporters remain strong

On the eve of the day marking Khomeini’s death, Rouhani delivered a speech at the above-mentioned shrine. His address, which called for unity in the face of external pressures, was disrupted by protesters siding with the hardliner critics of the nuclear talks.

Reports from domestic news agencies drew connections between the opposition of some conservatives to the P5+1 talks, their increased pressure on the Rouhani’s administration, and the events of June 2 disruption of Rouhani’s speech.

Jesting, with Khomeini in mind

Map of tweets from Iran. Source: Crimson Hexagon

The concurrence of Imam Mahdi’s birthday with the Khomeini’s death anniversary gave way to plenty of quips from Iranians on Twitter. Users from many provinces in Iran were active on Twitter throughout the period, sharing their “holiday” plans.

One user joked that the sudden and shocking switch between celebrations and mourning may cause the pious to “crack”.

Others focused on the exodus from the capital, to cottage country up north, for the holiday, sharing pictures of the busy roads leading out of the city, in contrast to the empty roads leading to the shrine.

Mehr news reports: The picture on the right, of the roads leading to the cottage country and the one on the left, to the shrine.

Written by Arta Shams, Trend Analyst at ASL19, for : Joint project between the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and ASL19. This work was made possible through data from Crismon Hexagon.

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