Iran’s supreme leader: Anti-regime rallies a US, Zionist ‘plot’
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Iran’s supreme leader: Anti-regime rallies a US, Zionist ‘plot’

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says mass protests held across country funded by Gulf states, carried out by outlawed opposition group

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian officials, participants of the 31st International Islamic Unity Conference and ambassadors from Islamic countries, in Tehran, Iran, December 6, 2017. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian officials, participants of the 31st International Islamic Unity Conference and ambassadors from Islamic countries, in Tehran, Iran, December 6, 2017. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday praised a “massive movement of the people against the plots of the enemies,” accusing the United States and Israel of inciting anti-government demonstrations.

Pro-government rallies have been held across the country since late December, according to Iranian state media, following several days of opposition protests which sparked violence that left 21 dead.

Such a “popular mobilization against the enemy’s plots targeting the regime… doesn’t exist anywhere (else) in the world,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast by Iranian media.

Iranian worshippers raise their fists in a sign of support during the Friday Prayer ceremony at the Imam Khomeini mosque in Tehran, on January 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

He accused the United States and “the Zionists” of spending months preparing demonstrations in small towns in the hope that they would spread to the capital.

“This will not go unanswered,” he said.

“The money came from the rich governments of the Persian Gulf and the perpetrators were the criminal Monafeghin group,” he added.

Monafeghin (“hypocrites” in Persian) is a label Iranian authorities use for the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an outlawed opposition group.

The anti-government protests had used the slogan “no to high living costs,” which “pleases everyone,” he said.

“But the people, who were not very many, quickly dissociated themselves (from the movement) when they realized the real objectives” of the instigators, he said.

Khamenei said there was a distinction between “the just demands of the people and the wild and destructive actions of this group.”

He said protests for rights had nothing to do with “burning the Koran, insulting Islam, insulting the flag and burning mosques.”

The anti-government demonstrations were the biggest such movement in the tightly controlled country since protests over a disputed election in 2009.

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