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Iran Uses US Pro-Palestine Protests To Offset Domestic Discontent

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The Iranian government continues to spotlight pro-Palestinian student protests in the US and Europe aiming to bolster its international image amidst waning domestic support.

On Tuesday, members of Iran’s parliament expressed their support for the pro-Palestine student movement and condemned the police actions against academics, 150 Iranian representatives voicing their solidarity with students and professors of American universities.

The surge of student-led pro-Palestinian rallies and sit-ins across the US has been fueled by the recent Israeli military actions in Gaza in retaliation for the Iran-backed Hamas invasion of October 7. Over 1,200 mostly civilians were killed and 250 more taken hostage. Israel has since waged a relentless retaliation which Hamas claims has killed over 33,000 people in the strip.

Students in the US are pressing their institutions to reveal and withdraw investments in funds and corporations linked with Israel, giving glee to the Iranian government which longs for ties between Israel and its biggest ally, the US, to sever.

However, the support by the Iranian regime has been met with criticism from within Iran, where many view it as hypocritical given the regime’s harsh treatment of its own students who dissent. Hundreds have been arrested and banned from universities amid the Women, Life, Freedom uprising which began in 2022 after the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini. She was arrested for the incorrect wearing of her hijab, sparking a nationwide uprising against the regime which continues until today. 

In a bizarre statement, Nasir Hosseini, Khamenei’s representative in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province claimed that “the voice of the Islamic Revolution is heard all around the world,” and noted that American university students are echoing themes similar to those promoted by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic ideology.

Mohammad Moazeni, president of Shiraz University, offered a place for students and faculty from the US and European universities who have been expelled or threatened with expulsion during anti-Israel protests to continue their education at Shiraz University, in spite of the fact that travel to Iran is all but prohibited by most countries amid Iran’s hostage diplomacy policy.

The Iranian regime has long positioned itself as a defender of the Palestinian cause, supporting multiple terror groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Lions Den, in a bid to destroy its archenemy, Israel.