Iran’s ayatollah: ‘Death to America’ chant about policy

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s supreme leader, the ayatollah Ali Khamenei, put out a website message Tuesday insisting the “death to America” chant that’s played across the Middle East is not as dark and foreboding as it sounds – that it really refers to policy, not people.

“[The] aim of the slogan is not death to American people,” he said, the Associated Press reported. “The slogan means death to U.S. policies and arrogance.”

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Khamenei also said the mantra gathers “strong support” in Iran.

He made the clarification while meeting with Iranian students in the leadup to the Nov. 4 anniversary of Iran’s 1979 storming and takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. That event led to the holding of 52 American hostages for 444 days.

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Diplomatic ties between American and Iran have been severed ever since.

“Death to America” is a frequent mantra slung by Iranian and hard Islamist factions in the Middle East, along with “Death to the West” and “Death to Israel.”