Twitter 'suspends innocent man after mistaking him for Isis leader'

"To confuse an Arab man for the IS leader because of his very common Arabic surname is overt racism, Twitter"

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The Independent Tech

Twitter has allegedly suspended the account of an innocent man after mistaking him for the leader of Isis.

Human rights activist Iyad El-Baghdadi has accused Twitter of “racism” after claiming his account was suspended when the social media site confused him with the leader of Isis Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The confusion arose when an Indonesian news outlet called Republika wrongly attributed Mr El-Baghdadi’s Twitter handle to the terrorist.

On the contrary, Mr El-Baghdadi is a human rights activist and entrepreneur living in Norway who researches the causes of radicalisation and how it can be prevented.

However, the mistaken identity was reported by other news outlets including the New York Post.

Mr El-Baghdadi says that despite protesting his innocence in a series of tweets, the confusion sparked by the false media report prompted Twitter to temporarily suspend his account. After his account was reinstated, he posted: “To confuse an Arab man for the IS leader because of his very Arabic common surname is overt racism Twitter” [sic].

He added: “I don’t think a single Arab country exists that doesn’t have a family with the surname El-Baghdadi.”


Speaking to The Independent, Mr El-Baghdadi called the social media company’s actions “pretty crass and stupid.”

He added: “For a company like Twitter to confuse an Arab Spring activist with an Arab terrorist based upon a common Arab surname really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

“No specific reason was given for the suspension- I merely received a vague message about having violated the Twitter rules (a ridiculous enough accusation). There was no mention of which Twitter rule in particular they claimed I ‘violated’.

“However, given the recent confusion with several news outlets citing me as the ‘Isis leader’, I think this is likely what happened here.”

He says that he has still received no response from the company regarding his complaints about the incident.

Other users on the site have posted messages of support in solidarity with Mr El-Baghdadi. One wrote: “Trying to process how Twitter could [be] so inept and racist all at once.”






When approached by The Independent for comment, a spokesperson for Twitter said that the company cannot comment on individual users for privacy reasons.