30 September 2023

False: This video shows ongoing protests in Iran, not celebrations over Khamenei’s ‘death’

Protesters chanted, “death to the dictator.” It does not connote the supreme leader’s death, as implied in the tweet. Khamenei is alive and made speeches in public after the post.

A Twitter video on Oct. 3 claimed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has died, and Iranians have started celebrating his supposed death, chanting “Khamenei is dead” in the streets.

The post in Chinese with a video clip came out after Khamenei’s health issue garnered wide international coverage and prompted speculations about his condition on social media in September.

The video shows vehicles blaring their horns at night as people chant in Persian. It has more than 11,000 views, 200 retweets and about 370 likes on Twitter.

The same video was also posted on another social media platform Gettr, apparently by the same user.

However, the claim is false. Khamenei was alive on the day the video was posted on Twitter.

police graduation ceremony
Khamenei appeared at a police university graduation on Oct. 3.

There has been no news of his death as of this writing.

Annie Lab found a video published by Hamshahri, an Iranian major newspaper, that shows Khamenei participating in the graduation ceremony of a police university on Oct. 3, the same day the false claim was made.

The video in question is a few weeks old. Through an image search, we found a tweet posted on Sept. 17 with the same clip of Iranians in Tehran chanting “death to the dictator,” when translated to English.

The chant does not connote “Khamenei is dead,” as insinuated by the claim in Chinese.

In fact, the video shows a scene of the protest that erupted in the country in mid-September following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was taken into custody by the morality police for wearing her hijab too loosely.

The Sept. 17 version of the video is longer and does not have the Chinese text overlay, as seen in the tweet we investigated (comparison video above).

To make sure, Annie Lab also looked into the license plate seen in the video and can confirm that it matches the rules in Iran.

License plate
A car license plate in the misleading video (left) and samples of Iranian vehicles’ license plates (right).

According to an Iranian website that features license plates in the country, these plates are rectangular in shape and they should be read from left to right.

The reading of these plates includes a two-digit number and an alphabet, followed by another three-digit number, and finally, a two-digit number in the square box that indicates the issuing place.

The car license plate in the video (۴۵ ج ۶۵۸ ۴۴), or (45 J 658 44) in English, matches the format of the plates in Iran.

On Oct. 3, Khamenei reportedly characterized the protests as ”riots” at the graduation ceremony.

Iran’s supreme leader delivered another speech at a meeting on Oct. 19 and also condemned the protesters for reportedly damaging the country’s university system.