Iran’s religious minorities have slammed recent controversial remarks by a top aide to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describing non-Muslims as “sinful animals who roam the earth and engage in corruption.” Kurosh Niknam, the Zoroastrian representative in the Iranian parliament, lashed out at the slur, saying it was “an unprecedented insult to religious minorities.”
“Not only are non-Muslims not sinful animals, but if Iran has an illustrious past and civilisation to feel good about, it owes this to those who lived in Iran before the arrival of Islam,” said Niknam, adding that animals were owed an apology, “because those who sin and besmirch the earth are men who have no respect for God’s other creatures.”
The inflammatory “sinful animal” remarks were made on Sunday by close advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati at a ceremony in north-eastern Iran to commemorate the ‘martyrs’ of the Revolutionary Guards and the (1980-1988) war against Iraq.
The ayatollah heads the powerful Guardian Council, a non-elected body made up of clerics and lawyers, which can veto legislation. As well as being a top aide to Khamenei, he is a mentor of Iran’s hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.