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Eli Lake

The Iranian Game-Show Host Urging His Fans to Burn Mosques

The expat's influence via social media helps to explain the undercurrent of violence in this round of protests.
Nonviolent resistance has the better track record.

Nonviolent resistance has the better track record.

Photographer: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Seyed Mohammad Hosseini makes for an unlikely revolutionary. The last time he was in Iran was in 2011. He was a minor celebrity, as the host of "Simorgh," a zany game show on which he would ask contestants to perform silly stunts for prizes.

Today he lives in America and urges Iranians to burn mosques and deface police stations. (Imagine an exiled Joe Rogan forming a new Weather Underground.) Since March of last year, Hosseini has been broadcasting messages to the people of Iran on Telegram, Instagram and other social media platforms urging them to #restartIran, a hashtag and the name of a movement he is now hoping will earn the support of the U.S. government.