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Iranian Ayatollah Blasts U.S. And Its Allies During Televised Prayers

One of Iran’s senior clerics today chided people he said were “surreptitiously” trying to build ties with the United States, warning they would get “nowhere” without broad Iranian support.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, secretary of the Guardian Council that vets and approves all elections, candidates and parliamentary bills in the country, said during Tehran’s nationally broadcast congregational prayers that “a group of people are trying to build underground networks for relations with America.”

He didn’t cite any names, but it seems likely that he was referring to reformists or moderate politicians supporting the government of President Hassan Rouhani, which is currently engaged in talks with the West about Iran’s nuclear program.

For months now, Iranian conservatives have expressed unease about any détente with the U.S., which they deem an imperialist power. The Ayatollah said U.S. sympathizers were “impregnated with the worship of America,” the way Jews had been “calf worshippers,” presumably during the time of Moses.

“In conditions when the enemy is being cheeky and impudent and says bad things, our people’s sense of honor is offended,” the semi-official ISNA agency quoted Jannati as saying.

He asked what these sympathizers hoped to gain in the “extremely improbable” case that the U.S. might reopen an embassy in Tehran, having cut all diplomatic ties in 1979. The Ayatollah said Iranians who marched to mark the Revolution’s Feb. 11 anniversary had chanted anti-American slogans.

“We say to America, come forward if you’re a man,” Jannati warned. “Our people gave another message to officials. ... They said, if we are an anti-American people, you should be too.”

Photo: Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/ZUMA

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Women attend a pro-government protest in Tehran as tension grows across the country

Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Sophia Constantino and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Monday, where a school shooting in Russia kills at least 13, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, and get ready for a superstar comeback at the next Super Bowl half-time show. Meanwhile, Chinese-language digital media The Initium visits the city of Guiyang, where a tragic crash of a bus carrying quarantined residents exposes the darkness of China’s zero-COVID policy.

[*Estonian]

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