Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rebuked the United States for its brutality against African-Americans, urging the entire world to wage a war against racism.
"Some don't think 'Black Lives Matter'," Zarif tweeted on Saturday, referring to an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people.
"To those of us who do: it is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism," he added.
"Time for a World Against Racism," Zarif noted, apparently alluding to the earlier "World Against Violence Extremism (WAVE)" proposal by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which was unanimously approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2013.
In his tweet, the Iranian foreign minister also posted an image of a revised version of his American counterpart's 2018 statement on Iran protests, changing a few words in Mike Pompeo's remarks to turn it into Iran's statement on the US protests.
Protests rage in US
The condemnation came as violent protests flared and curfews were imposed in several major US cities on Saturday with demonstrators taking to the streets to vent outrage at the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.
From Los Angeles to Miami to Chicago, protests marked by chants of “I can’t breathe” – a rallying cry echoing the dying words of George Floyd – began peacefully before turning unruly as demonstrators blocked traffic, set fires and clashed with riot police, some firing tear gas and plastic bullets.
The sight of protesters flooding streets fueled a sense of crisis in the United States after weeks of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions thrown out of work and has disproportionately affected minority communities.
In the nation’s capital, hundreds of demonstrators assembled near the Justice Department headquarters shouting, “Black lives matter.” Many later moved to the White House, where they faced off with shield-carrying police, some mounted on horseback.
President Donald Trump said on Saturday that if protesters who gathered the night before in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, had breached the fence, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
The full Minnesota National Guard was activated for the first time since World War Two after four nights of arson, looting and vandalism in parts of Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, and its adjacent capital, St. Paul.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said the deployment was necessary because “outside agitators” were using protests over Floyd’s death to “sow chaos”.
Civil rights activists said video of Floyd’s arrest on Monday – captured by an onlooker’s cellphone as he repeatedly groaned, “Please, I can’t breathe” before he died – triggered an outpouring of rage long simmering over persistent racial bias in the US criminal justice system.
Curfews were imposed in several major cities rocked by civil disturbances in recent days, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky. Protests also flared on Saturday in Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Cleveland.
In an extraordinary move, the Pentagon said it put military units on a four-hour alert to be ready if requested by the Minnesota governor to help keep the peace.
National Guard units also were mobilized by the governors of Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
The streets of Minneapolis were largely quiet during the day on Saturday. Several armored National Guard vehicles were seen rolling through town and authorities later closed major highways leading in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
At dusk, as the curfew went into effect, police confronted some 500 protesters milling around a burned-out bank and opened fire with tear gas and plastic bullets, sending the crowd scurrying.
It marked the fifth night of such clashes, the second since Friday’s announcement that Derek Chauvin, the policeman seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck, had been arrested on murder charges in Floyd’s death.
Floyd, who had worked security for Minneapolis nightclubs, had been suspected of trying to pass counterfeit money to buy cigarettes on Monday evening. Police said he was unarmed. A store employee who had called for help had told a police dispatcher that the suspect appeared to be intoxicated.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.