TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday called George Floyd’s killing "brutal” and criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for posing for photos while holding a Bible.
Rouhani said Floyd "was killed in the most brutal way”.
"We express sympathy toward the American people who are on the streets while harshly condemning the crime,” he said, referring to Floyd’s death after a white police officer was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck.
Rouhani also made reference to the clearing of peaceful protesters from a park outside the White House with chemical agents and flash bang grenades so that Trump could walk to a church for a photo opportunity.
"It is a shame that the president stands with a Bible when he plans to act against his people,” Rouhani said.
Protests sparked by Floyd’s killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have raged across the United States for a week and Trump has ordered the military to intervene.
The once-in-a-generation unrest has coincided with the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Trump’s Bible-toting stunt sparked outrage among several U.S. lawmakers and religious leaders, including the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Mariann Budde who said Trump had held up the Bible in front of the church under her watch "as if it were a prop or an extension of his military and authoritarian position”.
Budde, in an interview with the NBC, said that what Trump did "was an abuse of the spiritual tools and symbols of our traditions and of our sacred space”.
Separately, Rouhani censured the unilateral American sanctions that are disrupting imports of medical supplies into Iran, renewing a call for the European Union to take a stand against such illegal U.S. moves.
"The Americans have taken the health of 83 million Iranians hostage by imposing cruel sanctions and preventing the transfer of medicine and essentials to Iran” at a difficult time when a coronavirus outbreak has hit the country, Rouhani said in a phone conversation with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday.
"Under the ongoing circumstances, the European Union, particularly
Finland, should carry out its duty by condemning the illegal measures of the United States,” Rouhani added. He noted that all countries should be treated similarly in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, especially when it comes to free access to medicine and medical equipment. The president also lashed out at Washington for adopting a "narrow-minded” approach towards the World Health Organization (WHO) and slapping bans on the UN’s health organ as the entire world community is busy battling the deadly virus. Turning a blind eye to the pandemic, America has "violated international regulations and also increased sanctions against Iran,” the Iranian president added. "It is imperative that the European Union fulfill its duties [in protecting] human rights at this critical juncture,” he pointed out.