As Iran held presidential elections, the country’s religious leader said on his Facebook page that these were freer than those in the United States, which he said were controlled by the “Zionist regime.”
“US president is being elected only from two parties while Zionist regime is controlling everything behind the scenes,” said a cartoon posted Thursday on the English language Facebook page of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.
Iranians were voting Friday to choose a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has serve the maximum two terms in the role.
The graphic on Khamenei’s Facebook page depicts the star of David logo of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and beneath it, an arrow pointing at three fat oligarchs with money-bags heads, who hover over a line of voters.
Iranian presidents, by contrast, the cartoon said, come from “ordinary people” and some are not affiliated with parties. In that graphic, an arrow ascends from the line of voters points up to a single presidential candidate.
The Facebook page also shows Khamenei voting on Friday, election day, and quotes him as saying to “hell with recognition” from the United States.
Western governments say Iranian elections are not fully free because their candidates are subject to approval by a council appointed by the theocracy. Six candidates are running this year, and the council has rejected the candidacy of a number of moderates.
Moreover, even within such constrictions, there are allegations the elections are rigged. The 2009 elections returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency by wide margins, although polling and turnout before the elections suggested that a last minute bid by moderates would be successful. Allegations of vote stealing sparked demonstrations that turned deadly when forces sympathetic to the regime turned were unleashed on the protesters.
Ahmadinejad is not eligible to run this year.
The Ant-Defamation League called Khamenei’s statement “unadulterated” anti-Semitism.
“As Iranians head to the polls to choose from a roster of presidential candidates that were hand-selected and approved by the Supreme Leader and his cohorts, the notion that the American system is driven by Jewish control not only shows their ignorance of the true nature of democracy but exposes the bigotry and utter hypocrisy of this regime and its leaders,” ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.