During a speech in the religious city of Qom on Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei doubled down on his country’s response to protests over the last four months.
Speaking on the anniversary of the protests against the Shah of Iran in 1978 that ushered in the Islamic Revolution, Khamenei accused the United States of fomenting chaos in Iran 40 years later. It “tried any tool, especially propaganda, to reach their goal” of "overthrowing the Islamic Republic."
“But just like in these riots it became clear that they failed,” he added, according to Tasnim news agency.
Protests began in Iran four months ago over the death of Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the country’s morality police for a poor fitting hijab. She died in police custody, sparking immediate nationwide protests. Over 500 protesters have been killed and over 12,000 have been arrested. As of now, four individuals accused of attacks on security personnel have been executed, causing international condemnation.
“The hand of foreigners is very obvious. The most important tool of the enemy in these riots has been propaganda in Western, Arabic and Hebrew media and on social media,” Khamenei said of the protests, which they refer to as riots. He rejected the idea that the demonstrators had been protesting against the government, particularly its shortcomings, but rather the protesters had sought to “destroy the strong points of the country.”
Khamenei also expressed support of the judiciary saying that they have “confronted traitorous [actions] with seriousness and wisdom.”
Khamenei’s comments are no surprise. As supreme leader, he is the head of state and makes final decisions on security matters. His appointment last week of Ahmad Reza Radan to head the Law Enforcement of the country signaled that the government will stick to its current course. As a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer, Radan held an important position in the crackdown of the protests in 2009.