Iran Shamelessly Exploits US Palestine Protests to Cover Up Crackdown

As pro-Palestinian protests in the United States and other countries continue to grow, the Iranian regime is trying to take advantage of the situation to bolster its international image amidst declining domestic support.

One hundred fifty members of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly expressed their support for the growing pro-Palestine student movement in the West, voiced their support for students and professors from American universities that have joined the movement, and even condemned police action against students and activists.

Recent Israeli military action against Hamas, backed by Iran, in retaliation for the October 7 attacks that killed 1,200 Israelis and took hundreds hostage led to the surge of student-led, pro-Palestinian rallies, sit-ins, and encampments across the United States and other countries. 

Enraged by Israel’s relentless offensive against Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 attacks, which they have described as a “genocide,” students and academics have been organizing pro-Palestinian protests and sit-ins to pressure universities and other educational institutions to disclose and even divest from funds and corporations that do business with Israel.

This increase in pressure against American universities perceived to be doing business with Israel, directly or indirectly, follows a pattern of boycotts against corporations that are regarded as either supporting or enabling Israel, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks. These boycotts and student-led demonstrations have delighted the Islamic Republic, as the regime aims to sever the ties between the United States and Israel.

Nasir Hosseini, the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, bizarrely claimed that "the voice of the Islamic Revolution is heard all around the world," adding that American students and academics are echoing themes similar to those promoted by Khamenei and the Islamic Republic.

The President of Shiraz University, Mohammad Moazeni, also offered a place for students and faculty from American and European universities who have been expelled or threatened with expulsion for joining anti-Israel protests to continue their education and careers there, despite travel bans issued against Iran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei even posted a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter) on April 28th, calling to “see what is happening in the world,” adding that “In Western countries, in England and France, and in states across the US itself, people are coming out in huge numbers to chant slogans against Israel and America. US and Israel's reputation has been ruined. They truly have no solution.” 

Lastly, Iran has orchestrated its version of student-led, pro-Palestinian protests and sit-ins seen in universities in the United States and beyond, with the semi-official ISNA news agency reporting that “Iranian students and professors conducted rallies across Iran's universities, showing support for their Western counterparts and condemning the harsh responses of American police” amidst the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Images of limited gatherings at universities such as Amirkabir, Science and Technology in Tehran, and other educational institutions in Qom, Kermanshah, and Tabriz were posted on social media. The rallies used slogans typically employed by student movements and protests against the Iranian government, which the Iranian state media co-opted to describe the events in the US and propagandize the regime’s support for the Palestinian civilians who died following Israel’s offensive against Gaza after October 7.

Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic’s support for the pro-Palestinian student protests in the United States was met with fierce criticism from those living in Iran, as well as opposition news outlets run by the Iranian diaspora, such as Iran International.

In an article, Iran International acknowledged that “there’s little doubt that pro-Palestinian action has become more pronounced than ever,” adding that “there are many in the US who have expressed their displeasure with what they see as ‘heavy-handed’ response by university administration and law enforcement.” However, the outlet argued, "Khamenei may be the worst-placed leader to address the issue.

Many Iranians have also pointed out the “astounding hypocrisy” of a regime that cheers on and supports American university students and professors who exercise their freedom to protest and express their views while students and academics inside Iran are harshly treated and imprisoned. 

The Iranian regime has always presented itself as a “true champion” of the Palestinian cause, with its support and funding of Palestinian terrorist groups and political organizations, notably Hamas.

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