Following the tragic collapse of the Abadan Metropol building, which killed at least two dozen people, Iranian social media users have been expressing their solidarity with, and condolences to Abadan’s people in recent days.
One of the issues that have attracted attention is the fate of Hossein Abdolbaqi, the owner of Abadan Metropol. From the moment the building collapsed, various articles about his involvement with bribery were published on social media, indicating a great deal of corruption behind the construction of this complex.
During this period, more than 7,000 tweets were posted with reference to Abdolbaqi, and on Telegram, about 10,000 articles were published with 28 million viewers.
Following the sensitivity of public opinion regarding Abdolbaqi and the Iranian regime’s officials who were involved in the crime, it was announced on Monday that he had been arrested by order of the Khuzestan prosecutor. Just a day later, the news changed dramatically as it was announced that Abdolbaqi had died under the rubble of the collapsed building. This sudden change in reporting caused the users of social networks to question the credibility of the regime’s official media by publishing images and videos of Abdolbaqi, alive and well.
Many users did not believe the news of Abdolbaqi’s death and believed that it was simply a ruse to cover up his corruption. On Twitter, examining tweets containing the keywords ‘lie’ and ‘liar’ revealed that many tweets were mainly about Abdolbaqi and that there is a clear connection between the repetition of the word lie and the name of Hossein Abdolbaqi.
Many people do not believe the regime’s official media account of Abdolbaqi’s fate. They do not accept that Abdolbaqi is dead, based on their previous experiences in similar cases and the influence and relationships he had with the regime’s officials.
Among the reaction on social media were the following expressions, aimed at the regime’s media: ‘The accused escaped’; ‘Do not get tired of all this contradictory news,’ and ‘Enough of all these lies’.
Many of the regime’s media outlets wrote that this widespread distrust of the regime’s official media should be a serious alarm for the regime’s officials. Last week, another report on the lockdown of Tehran due to air pollution showed the same findings.
When the regime’s official media reports the arrest of a person, and the next day, suddenly announces that the person has died under the rubble, it is only natural that people would be suspicious and therefore, would not believe the news they are being told.
In an interview with the state-run news website Didban Iran about the news, a member of staff at the Beheshti Hospital in Abadan said, “On the day of the incident, they brought a corpse that had no head at all to the hospital and said that this person was Hossein Abdolbaqi!”
They added, “It could not be identified at all that this is the body of Abdolbaqi; Because the body was headless, how did Abadan TV & Radio broadcast the report of the identification of the body by his family? The people of Abadan do not believe in the death of Hossein Abdolbaqi.”
In an article about the people’s distrust of the regime’s media and officials, Qalmana, another website affiliated with the regime, wrote, “I asked in a poll on my Instagram page today: ‘Do you believe that Abdul Baqi is dead? 96 percent responded no. I knew that many would not believe his death, but 96 percent was shocking! In the following stories, I showed the report on the Radio & TV about the identification of Abdolbaqi’s body and asked again: Do you still not believe that Abdolbaqi is dead? And again, 94 percent said: ‘We do not believe’.”