Iran's Ayatollah Slams 'American Clowns' In Rare Friday Prayers Sermon
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years and delivered a sermon in which he excoriated U.S. leaders as "clowns" and accused European countries of negotiating in bad faith over the foundering nuclear deal.
Khamenei also indicated that Iran might retaliate further for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying a missile attack on U.S. assets in Iraq had been a blow to America's dignity and its status as a superpower.
The address comes at a delicate time for the ayatollah. Iran's leaders are locked in a contentious dispute with the U.S., and they're facing public criticism at home after admitting that Iran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing 176 people, most of whom were Iranian.
"The past two weeks were eventful and exceptional weeks," Khamenei said, according to a partial transcript on his website. Speaking to a large crowd of worshippers in Tehran, he added, "There were bitter and sweet events for the Iranian nation to take lessons from during these two weeks."
Taking aim at recent statements by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which they pledged their support for Iran's regular citizens, Khamenei said, "These American clowns lie in utter viciousness that they stand with the Iranian people."
Khamenei added, "They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian [people], it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers."
Despite the ayatollah's colorful language, as NPR's Jane Arraf reports, his overall speech was "perhaps a little bit less fiery than many would have expected." While the Iranian leader did criticize the U.S. and its allies, she says, "he did not make specific threats."Post too long. Click here to view the full text.