By Pooya Stone

Iranian Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi has referred to the Iranian military’s downing of a Ukrainian airliner that killed 176 people as “an incident” and said that Iran was the safest country in the world.

Raisi, who served on the Tehran death committee and sent thousands of people to their death during the 1988 Iranian massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), made that claim during a speech to entrepreneurs and producers in Yazd on Thursday.

He said: “The enemy is saying that the country of the Islamic Republic is unsafe. This is while the Islamic Republic of Iran is the safest place. [Regarding the plane downing,] these kinds of issues happen all over the world.”

Understandably, Iranians were angered by these comments and have taken to social media to protest.

One Iranian wrote on Twitter: “Ebrahim Raisi said that the country is in its safest and most secure period: The cancellation of flights out of Iran, the isolation of Iran in the span of just two months and is on the verge of becoming another North Korea, all thanks to the rule of the turbans.”

While another, identified as Ali, pointed out the irony of calling Iran a safe place when an MP in Kerman has put a price on the head of the US President and the Supreme Leader’s Representative in Mashhad has called for the UK Ambassador to be “chopped into pieces”.

He said: “If these aren’t indications of security, I don’t know what is.”

A Twitter user called Alireza wrote: “When impudence knows no bounds and deceit becomes the foundations of a country, these kinds of comments from its leaders is completely natural.”

Another Twitter user with the name Blacksheep explained that Raisi was right. Iran is the safest place in the world, but only for “murderers, thieves, embezzlers, and charlatans.”

The Ukrainian airliner was shot down on January 8, but for three days the Iranian authorities denied responsibility and blamed a mechanical fault, while still not producing the black box. Then, the US said that they had satellite evidence of missiles being shot at the plane, so Iran was forced to tell the truth.

The shootdown and the cover-up caused an uproar, with Iranians, particularly students, taking to the streets in protest and directly targeting Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, with the chant “Commander in Chief, resign, resign”. Khamenei has yet to apologize.

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