Iran launches app with 'death to America' emoji

After banning the popular encrypted messaging service Telegram, Iran launched its own domestic messaging app, Soroush, which features emojis stating “death to America” and in favor of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. 

Soroush includes several stickers of a chador-wearing women holding placards wishing death to Israel, the United States, and Freemasons. Other emojis include a woman posing with an image of Khamenei (Newsweek) and with the words “Let’s go pray.”

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The app was created in an attempt to get millions of Iranians to abandon Telegram, which Iran blames for civil unrest in December 2017 and January. (Read WikiTribune’s analysis on the role of Telegram in Iran’s protests in December.)

Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has been advocating use of the app, closing down his Telegram account last week and telling users to sign up to the service, assuring them that their privacy won’t be compromised.

The BBC reported there’s a competition within Iran’s Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, announced on the Force’s Telegram channel, where five people can win gold coins if they sign up.

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Soroush currently has 5 million followers, while around 50 million Iranians use Telegram. The app bears many similarities to Telegram, such as allowing users to join open channels and follow news. It also offers the option of allowing users to transfer their existing Telegram account to its platform.

Telegram is the most popular messaging app in Iran but came under fire for spreading messages against the regime of the Islamic Republic. The app was temporarily blocked in Iran in January, and was recently banned in Russia after its founder refused to hand over encryption keys to the authorities.

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