With demonstrators taking to Iranian streets in a series of rare protests that have continued since Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a short video clip on Facebook on Friday blasting Tehran for its treatment of Christians, and underlining the hypocrisy of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s tweeting of a Christmas message last week.
“Get a load of this,” Netanyahu said in the video – shared some 25,500 times – showing Zarif’s tweet.
That tweet, posted on December 23, reads: “‘The angels said, Mary, God gives you glad-tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Christ, Jesus, son of Mary; highly honored in this world and the next’ Quran 3:45 A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all. May Christ’s universal message of peace be embraced in the coming year”.
In his video, Netanyahu said: “I wonder what the Christians, jailed this month in Iran, would say about that tweet. I wonder what Iranian youth would think about that tweet. But sadly the regime bans Twitter, unless of course you are a high-ranking official.”
Earlier this month, according to Persian media reports, Iranian security forces arrested four Iranian converts to Christianity and raided six houses they used as home churches.
The Iranian government’s official news agency, IRNA, defended the arrests, saying that “elements of a devious Christian cult who were promoting it and attempting to disrupt the market and economic order have been arrested.”
Netanyahu made reference to these arrests in his video.
“Imagine you are praying quietly in your homes, surrounded by your family, and all of a sudden, armed thugs burst in and drag you away to prison. They torture you merely for practicing your Christian faith. Welcome to Iran,” he said.
Netanyahu added that, “saying Merry Christmas while jailing Christians in your own country is the height of hypocrisy.
“Say a prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering at the hands of this cruel Iranian regime,” he said. “We stand with you, brothers and sisters – the world stands with you.”
Netanyahu has frequently used videos posted on Facebook as a platform for commenting on Iran.
Earlier this month, he posted a video after an Iranian wrestler named Alireza Karimi was ordered by his coach to throw a match in the world championships in Poland to avoid meeting an Israeli competitor in the second round.
“Alireza, I want you to know that the tyrants who made you take a fall, will fall themselves,” Netanyahu said. “A regime that crushes the creative and competitive spirits of its people – that regime is doomed. So are those who threaten to destroy the Jewish state. They’ll go down for the count.”
In another video in October, he urged Zarif to delete his Twitter account, after the Iranian foreign minister tweeted that all of Iranians, “boys, girls, men, women,” stand with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That tweet came after US President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against the IRGC.
Netanyahu characterized Zarif’s tweet as “a whopper,” and said he was “sure that ordinary Iranians aren’t proud when the Revolutionary Guard murders innocent men and women around the globe.”
And last January, a day after Trump was inaugurated, Netanyahu addressed the Iranian people in a video, with Farsi subtitles, saying that he would never forget the street protests in 2009 brutally put down by the regime.
“This ruthless regime continues to deny you your freedom. It prevents thousands of candidates from competing in elections. It steals money from your poor to fund a mass murderer like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad,” Netanyahu said.
“By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy,” the prime minister said. “We’ve always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime. The regime is cruel – the people are not; the regime is aggressive – the people are warm. I yearn for the day when Israelis and Iranians can once again visit each other freely in Tehran and Isfahan, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The fanatics must not win.”
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