Khamenei says ‘Death to America’ chants ‘mean death to Trump,’ not US people
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Khamenei says ‘Death to America’ chants ‘mean death to Trump,’ not US people

Iran’s supreme leader: As long as America continues its wickedness, the Iranian nation will not abandon its call to kill ‘American rulers’

Iranian protesters burn an American flag during an annual anti-American rally in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.  (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)
Iranian protesters burn an American flag during an annual anti-American rally in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Iran’s supreme leader on Friday defended the “Death to America” chants which are standard at anti-US rallies in the country, saying that the slogan is directed at US President Donald Trump and America’s leaders, and not its people.

“‘Death to America’ means death to Trump, [National Security Adviser] John Bolton, and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo. It means death to American rulers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to his official website.

“As long as America continues its wickedness, the Iranian nation will not abandon ‘Death to America’,” Khamenei said at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Khamenei was referring to Trump’s State of the Union address this week in which the American president, among other things, said: “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a gathering of the Basij, an all-volunteer force under the Revolutionary Guard, in Tehran, October 4, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

In his State of the Union address, Trump contextualized his Iran policy by castigating the regime for its anti-Semitism.

Iran, he said, “chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism or those who spread its venomous creed.”

The need to take a strong stance against Tehran, the president implied, was evident in the attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, in which 11 were killed — believed to be deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in American history.

US President Donald Trump gives his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, February 5, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Iran pushed back Wednesday with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeting that “Iranians — including our Jewish compatriots — are commemorating 40 yrs of progress despite US pressure, just as @realDonaldTrump again makes accusations against us.”

Last year, the president withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and renewed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, actions that he said in his speech were intended to “ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons.”

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