Iran FM flips the script on US over Black Lives Matter protests

Iran FM flips the script on US over Black Lives Matter protests
Tehran's top diplomat altered a State Department statement on protests in Iran to berate the US over the killing of George Floyd and protests against police brutality.
3 min read
31 May, 2020
Zarif's tweet was accompanied by a screengrab of a State Department statement in 2018 [Twitter]
Iran's top diplomat on Saturday weighed in on the killing of an unarmed black man in police custody, recycling a State Department briefing from last year to make a statement on the protests that have engulfed the US this week.

"Some don't think #BlackLivesMatter. To those of us who do: it is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet. 

Zarif's tweet was accompanied by a screengrab of a State Department statement referring to protests in Iran in 2018.

In red, the foreign minister crossed out references to Tehran, changing the text to refer to the "recent protests in the US".

Demonstrations have swept across the United States this week after the death on Tuesday of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Floyd was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kept his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for help and stated that he could not breathe. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Security forces have cracked down on protests in Minnesota and elsewhere, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators.

"The US government is squandering its citizens' resources... As I have said before, it should surprise no one that protests continue in America," Zarif wrote in the altered State Department briefing.

"The American people are demanding their leaders share the country's wealth and respond to their legitimate needs. We condemn the government's same futile tactics of suppression, imprisonment of protesters, and the denial of Americans' frustrations," he added.

Nearly 1,400 people have been arrested since the protests began on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Members of the press have also been targeted by police.

Dozens of Twitter users replied to Zarif's tweet, slamming the foreign ministry for "hypocrisy" over the Islamic republic's treatment of demonstrators at home.

Hundreds of Iranians were killed in nationwide protests in November last year. 

Iran's interior minister indicated on Saturday that the death toll was less than 225 but figures collected by international organisations claim it could be much higher. The reported toll varies between 300 as reported by Amnesty International and a Reuters account of 1,500 killed.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said authorities would likely announce the official toll in the coming days.

Some replies to the foreign minister's tweet included the portraits and names of Iranians killed during last year's crackdown.

In a seperate tweet, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo replied: "You hang homosexuals, stone women and exterminate Jews."

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected