Iranian leaders accused the United States and President Donald Trump of "racism" Sunday after the death of George Floyd, using Twitter to criticize the U.S.-- which comes as several GOP senators demand they be removed from the social media platform entirely.
Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted out their support for #BlackLivesMatter and their opposition to racism in a series of tweets criticizing the United States. Both Iranian officials expressed their support for the protests demanding justice for Floyd, whose police-involved death led to one officer's arrest on third-degree murder charges.
"If you're dark-skinned walking in the US, you can't be sure you'll be alive in the next few minutes. #ICantBreathe #BlackLivesMatter," Iran's Supreme Leader tweeted. "Racial discrimination is still a dilemma in a country that claims to support freedom and human rights #Black_Lives_Matter."
"If you have colored skin, are black or Amer-indian, and are walking the streets of the United States, you cannot be sure that you will be alive in a few minutes. These are the words of the US president himself. That is the racism of the USA. #GeorgeFloydProtest," Khamenei tweeted Sunday in Spanish.
Responding to Zarif's tweet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Saturday cited Iran's own human and civil rights records on Twitter: "You hang homosexuals, stone women and exterminate Jews."
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. State Department Sunday afternoon for any additional comments.
On Sunday, the Iran Foreign Ministry Twitter account piled on ridicule of the Trump administration, saying the president "Failed to keep its promise of stopping wasting money on foreign adventurism & embattled in a Covid19 crisis of its own making,US regime ... should listen to its ppl & change its bankrupt policies."
Khamenei has accounts in four different languages in addition to his main Khamenei.ir account, which boasts more than 780,000 followers. He routinely references slavery, U.S. support of Israel, and Trump's own remarks in tweets criticizing America.
The Iranian leaders' use of Twitter has several Republican Senators, including Ted Cruz, demanding a federal investigation into the California-based tech company. The Texas senator wrote a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr Friday that accused Twitter of potentially violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by allowing Khamenei and Zarif to use the social media platform in any way.
Cruz penned a separate letter directly to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in February, saying the platform is "licensing the Iranian regime to propagandize over American social media platforms."
On Friday, Cruz shared a Media Research Center report highlighting "33 examples of anti-conservative bias" and allegations of "Big Tech censorship." The Texas lawmaker was joined by fellow Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Marsha Blackburn in his February letter to Dorsey urging him to block the Iranian accounts.
The senators warned the Twitter CEO that Khamenei's main English-language account "has had tweets removed for advocating murder." Cruz argued that Twitter is possibly committing criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by allowing the Iranian officials to use the platform.
"Ironically and infuriatingly, the Iranian regime does not allow its own people access to such platforms," the four GOP senators wrote to Dorsey.
The IEEPA in tandem with the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations gives the president authority to "investigate, regulate, or prohibit any transactions in foreign exchange." The emergency powers act gives Trump a broad ability to impose restrictions on Iran or other foreign entities deemed "threats."
The president last week responded to a Twitter "fact check" over one of his tweets by signing an executive order intended to limit legal protections for social media companies. By withdrawing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Twitter, Facebook and other Big Tech platforms would have to step up content policing efforts.
"Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!" the president tweeted about Twitter on Friday.
Newsweek reached out to Cruz's central Texas Senate office and the White House for additional comments Sunday afternoon.