Khamenei blames Iran protests on ‘Zionist regime’ and US

Remarks are Supreme Leader’s first public comments on three weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

In his first public comments since the breakout of widespread anti-government protests, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the demonstrations on Israel and the U.S. on Monday.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for military cadets, Khamenei said the demonstrations were “planned by the Zionist Regime,” not by “ordinary Iranians.”

He said the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of Iran’s morality police, “deeply broke my heart,” calling it a “bitter incident.”

A tweet on Khamenei’s Twitter feed said, “I openly state that the recent riots & unrest in Iran were schemes designed by the US; the usurping, fake Zionist regime; their mercenaries; & some treasonous Iranians abroad who helped them.”

A followup tweet said, “The young girl’s death was a tragic incident that saddened us too. But the right reaction to it wasn’t for some to create insecurity for ppl, burn the Quran, Mosques, banks, & ppl’s cars, & to pull off women’s scarves. These weren’t normal acts. They were planned.”

The message was apparently intended for the West. Iran shut off internet access to many of its 80 million citizens and blocked social media apps.

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Khamenei’s remarks followed assertions by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday that “enemies” of Iran “failed in their conspiracy.”

Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was detained in Tehran for wearing her hijab improperly. During the third day of her detention, Amini collapsed in her cell and died after being transferred to a hospital.

Since her death, at least 133 Iranians have been killed by security forces in anti-government demonstrations, according to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group.

Many of the protests featured women defiantly removing their hijabs.