Iran's Rouhani Condemns 'Brutal' George Floyd Killing, 'Shame' of Trump Bible Photos

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has condemned the "brutal" killing of George Floyd and systemic racism in the U.S., while attacking President Donald Trump for his mishandling of the subsequent nationwide unrest.

Rouhani gave a televised speech Thursday in which he expressed his support for American protesters and criticized the Trump administration for its uncompromising response to mass disturbances, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Rouhani—whose own government oversaw the brutal suppression of anti-regime protests at the end of 2019—said the world is witnessing major oppression of black Americans under the Trump administration.

"The rulers of the White House have turned the current situation in the United States into one of the worst in history," he told viewers. "George Floyd was killed in the most brutal way," Rouhani added, referring to the black man's killing by Minneapolis police officers last month.

Mass protests—plus some rioting and looting—have since broken out across the country, calling for justice for Floyd, wide ranging reforms to police forces and action to address systemic racial inequality.

Police forces have responded with violence, seeking to break up demonstrations with tear gas, rubber bullets, and baton charges. Thousands have been arrested, among them journalists attacked by police while reporting on the unrest.

Rouhani said Iranians "express sympathy toward the American people who are on the streets" and condemn the White House for ordering security forces to attack protesters.

Trump has been blamed for police breaking up a peaceful demonstration near the White House on Monday so he could visit a nearby church that had been vandalized. Attorney General Bill Barr is said to have personally ordered the police charge. The president has denied ordering the action.

While there, Trump posed for photographs holding a Bible. The move prompted criticism from political opponents and church leaders, who framed it as a stunt to help the president's re-election campaign.

In the days before, the president was accused of hiding in the White House while tweeting threatening messages, warning that "shooting" would meet looting and that "ominous weapons" might be used on protesters outside the White House.

As fires raged across Washington, D.C., the lights illuminating the White House were switched off and the president reportedly retreated to an underground bunker.

Rouhani criticized Trump for his Bible photoshoot. "The Bible is a holy book that invites people to peace and compassion. It is a shame that the U.S. president holds a Bible when he plans to act against American citizens," he said.

The unrest over Floyd's death has been a propaganda gift for America's authoritarian rivals. Nations like Iran, China and Russia have all condemned the violent suppression of peaceful protests, despite habitually using similar tactics to squash domestic dissent.

In 2019, Iranian security forces killed hundreds of protesters who were railing against the regime and protesting new taxes on fuel. The unrest spread nationwide, exacerbated by poor economic conditions in the country after years of international sanctions and regime investment in proxy forces fighting across the Middle East.

Iran, US, Hassan Rouhani, Donald Trump, protests
Police officers clash with protestors near the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020 as demonstrations over George Floyd's death continue. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images/Getty