TEHRAN - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday blamed a US-Israeli conspiracy aiming to sow conflict between religions for remarks by the Pope Benedict XVI on Islam and violence that unleashed a wave of anger across the Muslim world.
Khamenei said the comments were part of the same conspiracy that started with the US invasion of Iraq and has been hatched by great powers intent on creating crises between religions to "pursue their evil objectives".
"Leaders of the arrogant imperialists have already defined the links of the chain in this US-Zionist project by attacking Iraq," Khamenei said in comments broadcast on state television.
"The issue of the insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the Crusaders, and the pope's remarks are the latest links in this," he added."This is the intention of those powers whose survival is dependent on creating crisis to pursue their evil objectives in the international community."
He said protests against the pope's remarks should be targeted at the "great Satan", the Islamic republic's traditional term for its arch foe the United States, with whom it has no diplomatic relations.
"Everyone should consider that in this case the great Satan is responsible. The direction of the attacks and objections should be focussed on those that benefit from these unfair remarks by the pope," said Khamenei.
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