Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday blamed the United States, Israel and “treasonous” citizens for the recent unrest sweeping the nation.
Protests have spread nationwide following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody. Khamenei made the remarks, his first on the subject, at a ceremony organised to mark the graduation of cadets studing at academies of the Iranian armed forces. Terming the unrest “riots” Khamenei asked if the US president had ever pledged support for regular riots the world over. “Many riots take place around the world. Especially in France, massive riots occur every now and then, but has the US president ever supported European rioters, issued a declaration or said we stand with you? Is there any record of US media supporting them?”
The Iranian supreme leader questioned how the world remained oblivious to a foreign hand in the unrest. “Is there a history of US mercenaries, like some states in the region including the Saudis, supporting rioters in European countries? But such support against Iran has happened repeatedly. How can some people not see the US and Israel’s hands in this event?”
Khamenei said the protests were not about the hijab but Iranian independence and resistance. “This is not about hijab in Iran. Many Iranian women who don’t observe the hijab perfectly are among the steadfast supporters of the Islamic Republic. It is about Islamic Iran’s independence and resistance. The US cannot tolerate a strong, independent Iran.”
The Iranian supreme leader said the developments “were not normal events”. “The young girl’s death was a bitter incident that saddened us too. But the right reaction to it was not for some to create insecurity for people, burn the Holy Quran, mosques, banks, and people’s cars, and to pull off women’s scarves. These were not normal acts, he said.