In a Facebook entry and at least a dozen Twitter messages, Khamenei shared his views on the situation, accusing the U.S. of claiming to support human rights even as “people are deprived of a sense of security only because they have dark skins.”
“This is not about the past. It is not about 50 or 100 years ago that they would claim they have already had reforms. It is about today and the major cities of the United States,” he declared.
“Look, in a country that claims to support freedom and human rights, the problem of racial discrimination has not been solved yet. Still in that society, people are deprived of a sense of security only because they have dark skins! If necessary, the police may beat them to death over the crime of having dark skins!”
Khamenei also posted images interspersing photos from the civil rights struggle era with news footage from Ferguson, where the Aug. 9 shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer sparked a week of sometimes violent protests.
The ayatollah used the hashtag #Ferguson on many of the Twitter posts, with messages charging that African-Americans are “under pressure, oppressed and subjected to discrimination,” and that the U.S. government is the world’s “biggest violator” of human rights, committing both international crimes and crimes against its people.
He also alluded to other episodes in recent U.S. history, including the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the war in Afghanistan, during which, Khamenei charged, the U.S. had dropped bombs on Afghans, created illegal prisons and “massacred prisoners without trials.”
Khamenei also took the opportunity to condemn America for supporting Israel.
“The same people claim that they support human rights!” he said in his Ferguson-themed Facebook post. “They turn a blind eye to the horrible crimes of the usurper Zionist regime.”
“If a desperate and oppressed Palestinian shouts out and makes an aggressive move, their propaganda and political machines start to operate but all the crimes against the nations of Palestine and Lebanon are ignored by them! Today the flag of human rights is being carried by such people! Is this not a world of deception? Is this not a world of lies? Is this not a world of hypocrisy?”
Critics say the election a year ago of the purportedly moderate President Hasan Rouhani has done nothing to improve Iran’s abysmal human rights record. Almost 800 Iranians have been executed since Rouhani took office last August, including at least 38 political prisoners and 31 women, according to rights activists.
Ethnic minorities have been disproportionately represented in those figures: 24 of the 38 political prisoners executed were Baluchis, eight were Arab Ahvazi and five were Kurds.
The Islamic regime is also notorious for its treatment of religious minorities. Iran has been included every year for the past decade in the top ten on the annual Open Doors world watch list of the worst persecutors of Christians; and since 1999 has been designated by the U.S. government a “country of particular concern” for egregious religious freedom violations.
The State Department’s most recent international human rights report identifies as the worst human rights problems in Iran “the government’s manipulation of the electoral process, which severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.”
The report goes on to discuss numerous other violations, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons; severe restrictions on academic freedom and labor rights; and legal and societal discrimination and violence against women, children, ethnic and religious minorities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people.