The Iranian regime has launched a nationwide social media campaign called, "We Love Fighting Israel," which encourages Iranian children, teens, and Internet users to photograph themselves alongside messages of hate for the Jewish state.
The movement has sprouted online in the last few days across social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms as a result of a recent call by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rallying the nation to take on Israel.
The campaign drew outrage from opponents of Iran’s hardline regime and calls for sites such as Instagram to shut it down for violating policies against hate speech.
Thousands of Iranians are reported to have already joined the electronic movement following comments by Khamenei’s outlining Iran’s goal of destroying the Jewish state.
"Our people love fighting against the Zionists and the Islamic Republic has proved this as well," Khamenei was quoted as saying in a recent speech by the country’s state-run media. "By Allah's Favor and Grace, we have passed through the barrier of denominational discord."
These remarks inspired Iranian social media users to take to the Internet and launch the "We Love Fighting Israel" movement. The campaign even has spawned its own hashtag on Twitter, "#FightingtheZionists."
The anti-Israel campaign now "has gone viral on the web," according to Iran’s state-controlled Mehr News Agency, "getting more and more boost from individuals who post photos reading similar sentences, [and] sharing the #Fightingthezionists hash tag."
More than 300 pictures have already been posted to an Instagram account titled, "FightingTheZionists." The account, which had some 3,000 followers as of Tuesday evening, links to Khamenei’s personal Instagram account.
Users post pictures with messages declaring, "We love fighting against Israel," "I love to fight Israel," "We are lovers of fighting Israel," and "I love fighting against Zionists," among other similar messages.
One picture in particular has caught the eye of Iran critics on the web and prompted a harsh response to the anti-Israel campaign.
The photo shows a young child decked out in military gear and holding a sign that translates from Farsi as, "I love fighting against Zionists."
Captioned alongside the photo is an English language message that reads: "Our people love fighting against the Zionists and the Islamic Republic has proved this as well, Ayatollah Khamenei."
رهبر انقلاب: ملّت، عاشق مبارزهى با صهیونیستها است و جمهورى اسلامى هم این را نشان داده است Our people love fighting against the Zionists and the Islamic Republic has proved this as well,Ayatollah Khamenei الإمام الخامنئي: الشعب يعشق الكفاح ضد الصهاينة و قد أثبتت الجمهورية الإسلامية ذلك #Fightingthezionists #عاشق_مبارزه_با_اسرائيل #عشاق_مواجهة_إسرائيل
The photos posted on the Instagram page depict "several groups of people including war veterans, students, journalists, and people from all walks of life joining the campaign," according to Mehr News.
The American nonprofit group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which works to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, expressed disgust at the campaign on its Twitter account.
UANI lashed out at the Iranian regime for promoting "vile hate" and the "indoctrination of hate children."
Additionally, Matan Shamir, UANI's director of research, called on social media sites to immediately take steps to remove the Iranian campaign.
"The Iranian regime’s brazen exploitation and indoctrination of innocent children to hate and commit violence is utterly deplorable," Shamir said. "Instagram and its parent company Facebook must enforce their own guidelines prohibiting hate speech and incitement to violence, and remove such propaganda immediately."
Shamir went on to criticize Iran for its own domestic human rights abuses, such as preventing average citizens from accessing the Internet.
"It is intolerable that while the regime blocks its own citizens from accessing many popular social media platforms, it uses them to advance its own crude and hateful ideology," he said.