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Iranian student says Instagram account closed ‘over upbeat coronavirus post’

An Iranian student of journalism says the US-based social media platform Instagram has closed his account because he published a post that expressed hope about Iran’s efforts to contain a coronavirus outbreak in Iran.

Meysam Saeedi, a student of journalism at the university of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), made the announcement in a Persian post on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Saeedi, who was admitted to hospital himself for a coronavirus infection, had published a picture of himself, medical staffers, and other coronavirus patients at a hospital ward making victory signs and looking strong with hope.

“Instagram closed my account for no reason!” Saeedi wrote. “No [mention of] Haj Qassem or anything else! They only seek to stifle hope in the Iranian nation! But we will combat the #coronavirus with hope and will prevail.”

Saeedi was referring to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who was assassinated on the direct order of US President Donald Trump in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad early last month.

After the assassination, Instagram either deleted the accounts of many Iranians who had been using the social networking service to communicate their devastation at the tragedy, or eliminated relevant content posted by them.

Even before the US’s targeted killing of Soleimani, the American photo- and video-sharing platform had blocked the pages associated with the Quds Force’s popular commander after Washington’s blacklisting of the elite military force.

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The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and is now spreading in Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic. The outbreak has killed more than 2,600 people and infected more than 77,000 others in China. Nearly 2,700 people have been infected globally.

In Iran, the virus first showed up in the north-central city of Qom, a destination for Muslim pilgrims from across the world. Twenty six people have lost their lives in Iran and 245 others have contracted the virus.

Iranian medical officials have assured that Iran will soon rein in the outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that Iran had the necessary fundamental capabilities to tackle the epidemic, and that the country’s performance has been “successful and exemplary” in the region and the world.

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