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Iran’s Zarif offers thoughts and prayers over synagogue massacre

Tehran’s top diplomat says extremism and terrorism must be condemned, world deserves better than ‘weaponized demagoguery’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seen during a meeting between the  Iranian president and the North Korean foreign minister in Tehran, Iran, on August 8, 2018. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seen during a meeting between the Iranian president and the North Korean foreign minister in Tehran, Iran, on August 8, 2018. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday joined international condemnation of the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend that left 11 worshipers dead.

“Extremism and terrorism know no race or religion, and must be condemned in all cases,” Zarif posted on Twitter.

“The world deserves better than to have to live with weaponized demagoguery,” he said, then extended his condolences to the families of the 11 people gunned down in the Tree of Life on Saturday.

The deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent United States history has sparked a flood of international condemnation and warnings about the rise of hate speech.

Arab and Muslim leaders joined the US, Israel, Europe and the UN in denouncing the brutal assault by gunman Robert Bowers, who reportedly yelled “All Jews must die” as he sprayed bullets into the congregation during Sabbath services.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority issued a statement condemning the “terror attack that targeted a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh.” A statement published on the official Wafa news agency slammed the “targeting of places of worship by terrorists who hold fascist and rotten beliefs based on [white] supremacy.”

Despite souring ties with the Trump administration, the Ramallah government said it stood in solidarity with the American people and offered its condolences to the families of the victims.

Hamas terrorist group on Sunday said it was “sorry to hear about the terror attack. Top Hamas official Basem Naim said that as Palestinian victims of Israeli “terror,” the group could relate to the Pennsylvania Jewish community’s pain.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denounced the “heinous attack” in statement Sunday, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his condolences and said his government “unequivocally condemns all forms of terrorism.”

Saudi Arabia also forcefully condemned the massacre over the weekend, saying in a statement released by its US embassy that holy places should never be targeted.

“Houses of worship are meant to provide safe and spiritual refuge. Those who desecrate their sanctity attack all humanity,” the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, tweeted.

On Monday, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez told the Al-Ahram news website that Cairo rejected “all [forms] of terrorism, violence and radicalism including the targeting places of worship.”

US federal officials said that 46-year-old suspect Robert Bowers — arrested at the synagogue after a firefight with police — faces 29 federal charges, many carrying the death penalty.

He has been hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds but will appear before a federal judge later on Monday.

The shooting came days after a pipe bomb was sent to prominent Jewish philanthropist George Soros, who has been the target of what many see as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Such conspiracy theories, which accuse Jews of dominating government and finance, are rife among the so-called “alt-right” movement, which is supportive of Trump and has gained significant influence in recent years, including through the president’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

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