Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Uses iPhone to Demand End of Apple Imports

A Twitter account belonging to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged the Iranian government to end imports of "luxury American smartphones" in a tweet sent from an Apple iPhone.

The anti-American appeal was sent by Khamenei's Russian-language Twitter account on Sunday. The ayatollah has multiple Twitter accounts in several languages, including English, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

The Russian account was opened in January 2020 and has more than 7,000 followers. Its reach is far smaller than the English-language account, which has more than 809,000 followers.

"Nat'l production is key to employment, welfare, reducing inflation& increasing nat'l currency's power," Khamenei tweeted. "An obstacle to production is unneeded imports like luxury products. Last year, half a billion dollars were spent to import a certain luxury US mobile brand. Govt must stop this."

Similar tweets were sent from several of Khamenei's accounts, but the Russian-language account used an iPhone to do so. The English tweet was sent via the Twitter Web App. Other tweets have previously also been sent using TweetDeck for Android phones.

Khamenei made his same anti-imports appeal to cabinet ministers during a video conference meeting on Sunday, held during "Government Week." Khamenei called for economic reforms and condemned luxury imports during the meeting, according to remarks posted on his personal website.

"Excessive imports are something dangerous and important," he told cabinet ministers. "Sometimes this import is a luxury product, meaning there is no need for it. I've heard about half a billion dollars were spent to import one type of American luxury cellphone in [2019]. Of course, the private sector does this, but the government must prevent it."

Khamenei and key regime figures like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif often use Twitter to reach an international audience, even though the platform and other popular social media sites like Instagram are banned in Iran.

Twitter has previously punished Khamanei for violating its rules, and his account was temporarily suspended in 2019 for endorsing a religious ruling issued by his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that condemned British author Salman Rushdie to death for blasphemy.

President Donald Trump's administration has complained that Twitter continues to allow Khamenei to post on the site. When a Trump tweet was flagged by Twitter for "glorifying violence," the White House tweeted a post by Khamenei lauding "jihad" in "the struggle to free Palestine." Khamenei said fighters "even if killed" will receive rewards from god.

The White House accused Twitter of double standards, writing: "Twitter has determined that it will allow terrorists, dictators, and foreign propagandists to abuse its platform."

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This file photo shows an Iranian woman with a phone cover of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a rally at the Sahhid Shiroudi Stadium in Tehran, on July 11, 2019. -/AFP via Getty Images/Getty