Khamenei’s speech fails to calm the plane rage

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Nicosia: On Friday, some Iranians were outraged by a speech by Iran’s supreme leader, who said that after a month of tension in the Islamic Republic, they were trying to downplay a few days of protests.

An Iranian activist said: “He did not even try to calm the people and did not ignore the demonstrators at all.”

Like other Iranians contacted by AFP from abroad, she asked to remain anonymous so as not to be affected.

The Iranian government acknowledged that protests broke out after a Ukrainian plane was accidentally shot down on January 8. All 176 people on board were killed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who led Tehran’s most important weekly prayer event, described the collapse as a “painful” tragedy.

But he said this should not mask the “sacrifice” of Iranian top commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed on January 3 in an American drone attack.

The activist said, “He has publicly announced that Qasem Solemani is more important than passengers on Ukrainian planes.”

In retaliation for Solemani’s death, Iran fired a ballistic missile at an Iraqi base inhabited by US forces last week. Hours later, it shot down a Boeing 737.

Another Iranian responded to the speech via the Telegram Messenger app and said that Khamenei was “pronounced … the dead on the ground or in the air were not important to me”.

Friday’s speech came after a painful month. During this month, Iran seemed to be fighting a major American enemy after Solimani was killed.

Khamenei’s last leadership Friday was on the 33rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution in February 2012 during a prayer in the mosala mosque in Tehran when the Iranian nuclear issue was confronted with a crisis.

On Friday, Khamenei insisted that the demonstrations about the landing of the aircraft did not represent the Iranian people.

A 24-year-old artist in Tehran told AFP: “If he says these people are none of us, this will increase the differences between people and increase the distance between people and the government.”

He added: “This makes people who are not close to the regime more proactive in their search for change.”

An Iranian Twitter user has posted: “Compared to the funeral of Qasem Soleimani, ignoring demonstrators and reducing them to hundreds is the opinion of the regime.”

Hundreds of thousands of people lingered in the streets of various Iranian cities in memory of Solemani.

A 35-year-old woman told AFP: “Nothing new, only slogans, slogans and slogans. He didn’t even observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the plane crash.”

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