(JTA) — In finally addressing the protests against the repression of women that have for two weeks roiled his country, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed Israel and the United States for the unrest.
“I openly state that the recent riots and unrest in Iran were schemes designed by the U.S.; the usurping, fake Zionist regime; their mercenaries; and some treasonous Iranians abroad who helped them,” Khamenei said Monday in a speech to police cadets in Tehran, remarks which were later posted in English on his official Twitter account.
The protests that have engulfed the country since Sept. 17 were sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for not properly wearing a headscarf. There have been hundreds of arrests and state TV has reported over 40 deaths of protesters and police.
Khamenei did not offer any evidence to back up his assertion on Monday, other than to claim that protests in other countries do not garner as much international attention and condemnation. Khamenei heads a regime that has for decades backed the dismantling of Israel and lends logistical support to terrorist groups and some of Israel’s most implacable enemies.
Simultaneous demonstrations in support of Iran’s protests took place across the world on Saturday. As in many other countries, Israeli women have recorded online videos in support of the Iranian protesters; at least one set was organized by Israel’s foreign ministry.