, TEHRAN, Sept 20 – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted arch-foe Israel, Western powers and foreign media networks in a sermon on Sunday marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Khamenei, who has the final say in all Iran’s national issues, said a "Zionist cancer" was gnawing into the lives of Islamic nations.
The annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally held across Iran on Friday, he said, was a "day of loud and clear shouts" against this "deadly cancer of Zionism which is gnawing into the lives of the Islamic nations".
The all-powerful cleric added that the "deadly cancer was spreading through the invading hands of the occupiers and arrogant powers."
His anti-Israel remarks came two days after the Quds Day rally during which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had also slammed Israel and reiterated his controversial belief that the Holocaust was a "myth."
Friday’s pro-Palestinian rally was marred by massive protests against Ahmadinejad launched by supporters of those who stood against him in June presidential elections and who claim his re-election was rigged.2
A top Tehran police commander, Azizollah Rajabzadeh, said meanwhile that some 35 people were arrested "for vandalising public property" during Friday’s rally.
Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel comments enraged the global community, including key ally Moscow, just days ahead of his planned visit to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
On Sunday, Khamenei said attempts by Israel, Western powers and foreign media networks to weaken Iran had failed.
"The enemies tried to undermine the Quds Day rally, but the rally showed that the schemes of the enemies were not effective," the cleric said as worshippers attending his sermon at Tehran university chanted, "Leader, we offer our blood to you!"
He particularly lashed out foreign media networks, saying they were "poisoning the atmosphere in Iran."
"In the past few months, Western leaders fell for their media, professional press analysts and radios and televisions and thought they could influence the Iranian nation. But you showed that they were chasing a mirage," he told the crowds of worshippers.
"This year, more than before, they tried to weaken the Quds Day, but the glorious Quds Day in Tehran showed the whole world the direction in which the revolution and Iran was heading.
"It showed that their (Western politicians) tricks, spending money and political evilness do not influence the Iranian nation."
The Iranian leader intimated that the Iranian people had become "more powerful and stronger" than in the early days of the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.
"Some attacked the Islamic republic and had wishful thinking that they would conquer Tehran three days, one week or a month after (the revolution). But today after 30 years… this tree (the nation’s power) has become sturdier with deeper roots."
Khamenei’s sermon marking Eid and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan was attended by Ahmadinejad and other top officials of Iran, including opposition supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.
Mohsen Rezai, former head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and one of the defeated candidates in the June 12 presidential election, was also present during the sermon.