Iran’s Khamenei Blames US Airman’s Self-Immolation on ‘Western Culture’

Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei / AP
February 29, 2024

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday blamed "Western culture" for the self-immolation of U.S. airman Aaron Bushnell outside of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

"The genocide in Gaza is even too much for that young person who was brought up in the Western culture," Khamenei said on X. "His conscience was hurting and he set himself on fire."

Hours earlier, the ayatollah had also attributed Bushnell's actions to "antihuman" policies the West has propagated.

"The West’s disgraceful antihuman policies with regard to the genocide in Gaza have reached such a point that a U.S. military officer sets himself on fire," he said in the earlier post.

Just after Khamenei made his posts, Iran's Press TV eulogized Bushnell, calling his self-immolation a "tragic protest against genocide" and a "fiery stand for Palestine." Its X post contained a video describing Bushnell's actions, featuring lightly censored footage of his suicide.

Bushnell on Sunday said that he would "no longer be complicit in genocide" before he stood outside the embassy and lit himself on fire, yelling, "Free Palestine." He later succumbed to his injuries.

In the days following, left-wingers in the United States—including third-party presidential candidates Cornel West and Jill Stein—valorized his actions. Additionally, Hamas praised him, saying in a statement that he would "remain immortal in the memory of our Palestinian people."