ran’s Supreme Leader has issued a statement condemning the distribution of the “anti-Islamic” film Innocence of Muslims and accusing the United States and Israel of being chiefly responsible for its production and dissemination.
Iranian media report that following two days of violent protests against the amateur film, which was distributed by the Christian extremist pastor Terry Jones, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a statement.
He referred to the distribution of the film as “an odious and maddening action,” adding: “The hostile policies of Zionism, the United States and the head of world arrogance are behind this evil move.”
The Iranian leader went on to add that if those countries had not supported “Salman Rushdie, the Dutch cartoonist and the American pastors who burn the Quran, [today] we would have reached this great and unforgiveable sin.”
The 1988 Salman Rushdie novel, The Satanic Verses, was heavily criticized by Muslims, and the late leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, called for the writer’s death for blasphemy.
In 2005, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard created a controversial cartoon of the prophet Mohammad that stoked violent reactions in the Muslim world.
Terry Jones, the pastor of a small fundamentalist Christian church in Florida, burned copies of the Quran in April 2012, for which he was fined $271 dollars for burning books without authorization.
Ayatollah Khamenei says in his statement: “If American politicians are honest in saying that they were not involved in this, they should punish the perpetrators and supporters of this heinous crime with an appropriate penalty.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the film yesterday, stressing that the U.S. government was in no way involved in it.
Meanwhile, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami wrote a letter to the secretary general of the Islamic Conference Organization, denouncing any form of “insult to the sanctities of any people, religion or nation.” He also wrote that the making of such a film could have been prevented if previous insults had been confronted.
Today in Iran, following the Friday Mass prayers, mass demonstrations were held on the streets of Tehran, and U.S. and Israeli flags were burned in protest against the film.
The harshest reactions to the film occurred two days ago in Benghazi, where the U.S. consulate was stormed, leading to the death of the American ambassador and three U.S. embassy staff due to smoke inhalation.
The amateur film, which was aired on YouTube, is said to have been independently produced in the United States with money raised by some Jewish backers.