Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday tied Muslim ire over a US-made film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad to the "Islamophobic policies of arrogant powers and Zionists," according to Iranian media, as civilians across the country staged a second day of protests against the amateur movie.
“Nations are aware of the Islamophobic policies of arrogant powers and Zionists," Khamenei said according to Iran's official Press TV. Speaking at Iran's northern port city of Noshahr to a group of army cadets, Khamenei added that it is incumbent upon Western governments to prove to the Muslim world that they are against attacks against Islam. Leaders of [the US and European countries] must prove that they were not accomplices in this big crime in practice by preventing such crazy measures,” he said.
Following the riots, the administration of US President Barack Obama quickly condemned the film. Obama released a statement saying he rejected “efforts to denigrate Islam,” while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the video as “disgusting and reprehensible.”
The verbal condemnations from the US proved insufficient to stem Khamenei's anger, as the supreme leader hinted that Western countries would have to do more than apologize over the perceived insult. "They should exonerate themselves from this big crime in practice and not in words," he said according to Iran's semi-official Fars news outlet.
Khamenei's comments came as Tehran hosted a second day of mass rallies against the film. Protesters gathered at a number of universities and at the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles US affairs in the Islamic Republic. They chanted "Death to the US," "Death to Israel," and called on the United Nations to intervene to stop the ongoing broadcast of the film, according to Fars.
Iran also took the issue to the UN through a more official channel, as the country’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking him to take legal action against those responsible for the film. “This sacrilegious act should ring the alarms for all of us and unite us against such hate crimes,” he wrote, according to Press TV.
Also Monday, Iran's First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Iran would hunt down those responsible for the production of the film. "Certainly [Iran] will search for, track, and pursue this guilty person who has insulted 1.5 billion Muslims in the world."