In a speech this month in the East Azerbaijan region of Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that a war on Iran’s culture and economy is more dangerous to his Islamic regime than any military threat from the West.
“A European official said to our officials that a war in Iran would have been inevitable if it had not been for the Bar-Jaam,” Khamenei said, referring to the nuclear agreement brokered by the Obama administration and Western allies. “That official said that if the Bar-Jaam had not been signed, the war would have been definite.”
“This is a blatant lie!” Khamenei said in the speech. “Why do they speak about war? They do so because they want to switch our minds to a military war, but the real war is something else.”
“The real war is an economic war, the real war is the war of sanctions, the real war is the arenas of work, activity, and technology inside the country,” Khamenei said. “This is the real war!”
“They draw our attention to a military war so that we ignore this war,” Khamenei said. “The real war is a cultural war.
“There are so many television and internet networks which are busy diverting the hearts and minds of our youth away from religion, our sacred beliefs, morality, modesty and the like,” Khamenei said.
“They are working in a serious manner and they are spending heavily on this,” Khamenei said. “The real war is this.”
The 2017 Academy Awards on Monday night put Iran and its culture in the spotlight, with the Iranian film The Salesman winning Best Foreign Language film.
The Iranian film’s director, Asghar Farhadi, said last month that he would boycott the Oscars because of Trump’s immigration order on halting refugees coming to the United States from seven countries with links to Islamic terrorism, according to a January 29 New York Times article.
“To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity,” Farhadi said in a statement published by the Times. “I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted praise for the film’s award and Iranian culture after the win.
“Proud of cast & crew of ‘The Salesman’ for Oscar & stance against #Muslim Ban. Iranians have represented culture & civilization for millennia,” Zarif tweeted.
The Guardian reported that a “protest vote” against Trump’s immigration policy might have helped the film win.
Khamenei tweeted in August that the United States was responsible for creating and supporting ISIL, or Daesh, as part of what he claims is a culture war against “true Islam.”
“US aim of making & backing DAESH is to sow discord in Islamic Ummah, defame true Islam & promote Wahabi Islam which is far from true Islam,” Khamenei wrote.
Khamenei, a Muslim cleric, has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989 after serving as the third president from 1981 to 1989. He regularly calls the United States the Great Satan and promotes the destruction of Israel.