Using American political crises to swipe at his sworn enemy, the United States, is a hobby of the supreme leader (or at least his social media manager), whose past tweets have covered police brutality in Ferguson, Mo., and the rights of women in the United States.
Iran’s police are notoriously brutal, and Iranian women “have been sent to jail for publicly speaking out in favor of equal rights,” according to Human Rights Watch. But that hasn’t stopped Khamenei, whose authority is unchallenged in Iran, from offering commentary on the United States’ social ills. The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since 1980, when Iranian revolutionaries took U.S. citizens hostage at the embassy in Tehran.
If the United States “has any power” then it should “better manage” the country and “tackle #WhiteSupremacy rather than meddle in nations’ affairs,” Khamenei posted Wednesday on Twitter, adding a #Charlottesville hashtag.
Accompanying the tweet was a photo of a much younger Khamenei holding a dark-skinned infant, though the circumstances and location of the photo were unclear.
The image had been published on Khamenei’s official website, along with other photos under the headline “Leader of the Martyrs.” It appeared to be a ham-handed attempt to portray Khamenei as a more tolerant leader.
In December 2014, when the United States was in the throes of a debate over race relations and police brutality, Khamenei used Twitter to draw parallels between Jesus and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s expected that followers of #Jesus follow him in his . . . support for the oppressed,” his tweet said, adding the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
His post Wednesday triggered contentious replies.
“What about the racism of your state” and the poor treatment of ethnic minorities in Iran, tweeted one user, Kajal Mohammadi.
“They are treated better than other minorities in other regional states,” user SunniPulse786 fired back.
Another accused Khamenei of “Persian supremacy” in the suppression of minority rights in Iran.
“You act like [it] doesn’t dominate Iranian culture and policy,” he said.