The hashtag #IraniansDetestSoleimani has been trending on Twitter this week, as users voiced their opposition to the recently assassinated Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani. The hashtag remained one of the most popular amongst users in the U.S. and Western Europe. But similar viral sentiment was not expressed across the Middle East, least of all on Iranian Twitter, leaving one to wonder, who are these Iranian Soleimani haters?
The story became stranger still after Middle East and social media disinformation expert Professor Marc Owen Jones of Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar analyzed the trend. Jones studied 60,000 tweets from nearly 10,000 accounts using the hashtag and found that the most common phrases in those users’ biographies were “Make America Great Again” and “Trump” – not somebody noted for his support among Iranians, or Muslims more generally. He concluded that “once again that the online right wing MAGA movement is boosting the trend that seeks to indicate that Iranians actually hated Soleimani.”