Iranian Leader: "Death to America" Is More Diplomatic Than You Think

Iran's leader can't understand why Americans are so against that whole "Death to America" chant he loves to lead.

Ayatollah Khamenei

It’s not uncommon for mass rallies and political gatherings in Iran to feature raucous chants of “Death to America.”

The infamous slogan has not only embroiled itself into the political culture of the Middle-Eastern country, it became a point of contention when the U.S officials were debating Iran nuclear deal in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

Although many politicians deride the call for destruction of America, Iran’s supreme leader doesn't get what all of the fuss is about. He just clarified that it does not mean what people think it means.

On Tuesday, ahead of the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech to university students, who responded with well-worn shouts of “Death to America.” The chants apparently led the leader to discuss the slogan with the attendees, clarifying what it actually stands for.

“The slogan 'death to America' is backed by reason and wisdom, and it goes without saying that the slogan does not mean death to the American nation. This slogan means death to the U.S.'s policies, death to arrogance,” he said.

Yes, the slogan is not directed toward the people of the U.S., it refers to the Western country’s policies.

“This slogan means death to the policies of the U.S. and arrogant powers, and this logic is accepted by every nation when explained in clear terms,” Khamenei claimed in his speech, adding that the U.S. “will not hesitate” if given a chance to destroy Iran.

Although Khamenei expressed his mistrust and said that he cannot forgive the “arrogant” American attitude, it seems his intention is to diffuse tensions — and while it is doubtful that his explanation will put the American public or politicians at ease, it is a step forward nonetheless. 

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