Iran's Khamenei praises Egyptian protesters, declares 'Islamic awakening'
Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, addressed Egypt's protesters in Arabic on Friday, calling President Mubarak a 'traitor dictator' who has betrayed Egyptians.
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In the Friday sermon, Khamenei aimed to rekindle part of that influence by speaking about the “similarities” to 1979, and offering advice. Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, has played a small but increasing role in the protests, though in the past its officials have privately made clear that they don’t see Iran’s revolutionary experience as either a good or useful model.
“The enemy is striving by force and by tricks, the enemy is trying to harm your will, to destroy your will,” Khamenei warned Egyptians, according to a simultaneous translation on Iran’s state-run PressTV.
“The enemy is trying to create despair, to make you believe you can’t achieve your aims. However, the promise of God says that we want to help those who were oppressed in the land…to achieve their aims, so be sure, be totally confident, in the promise of God,” said Khamenei.
“The enemy is using its security forces against you, in order to put fear and intimidation in your hearts, and to create chaos,” Iran’s supreme leader added. “Do not fear them, you are stronger than these people who have been paid for.”
Khamenei also claimed that foreign media that had “always” tried to tarnish Iran’s image, and “say that Iran wants to intervene … these are lies which have filled our ears for 30 years.”
Green Movement support
The leadership of Iran’s Green Movement – working under virtual house arrest in Tehran and dismissed by hard-line officials as powerless “leaders of sedition” – has also embraced the Egyptian cause.
In a joint statement this week, former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi spoke of Egypt and – between the lines – Iran: “No power can suppress the people’s will and demand. Sooner or later, autocratic and tyrant power are sentenced to vanish.”
Yet it has been hard-line stalwarts in Iran who have crowed their support of the Egyptian protesters, despite their hostility to similar events at home in Iran.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said this week “we are going along with the freedom seekers of the world.”
“The policies of the United State have been defeated in North Africa and the Middle East,” said Rahim Safavi, the former head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The popular revolution in Egypt is inspired by the Islamic revolution [of Iran] and doubtlessly the destiny of the dictator of Egypt will be like the dictator of Iran.”