Coronavirus is a big problem, but there are bigger problems in the world, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a live televised speech on Thursday.
Khamenei was speaking on the anniversary of the birth of the 12th Shia Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi, a revered figure who Shia Muslims believe will one day return as a savior to humanity.
“Coronavirus is a big problem for humanity, but it is a small issue compared to many other problems,” Khamenei said.
“We have had many problems in the world and in our country which were even greater problems than coronavirus,” he said, citing the Iran-Iraq war, World War II, and the Vietnam War as examples.
“It is said that 1 million people have died from coronavirus across the world. I do not remember exactly, but I know more than 10 million people were killed in the two world wars,” Khamenei said.
The global coronavirus death toll is 87,760 as of Thursday, while at least 108 million were killed during the wars of the 20th century.
“Coronavirus must not distract us from the enemies’ conspiracies,” said Khamenei.
The coronavirus pandemic is a “test” for governments as well as people, he said, adding that the Iranian people have shone brightly in this test.
Khamenei thanked the country’s medical staff, armed forces, and members of the Basij Force, for their efforts in containing the coronavirus outbreak. The Basij Force is the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Citing panic buying in some countries, he said Western society has shown how uncivilized it is during the coronavirus pandemic.
“But some disagree when we say the West has a barbaric soul,” Khamenei said. “There have been fewer periods in human history when human beings anywhere in the world have felt the need for a savior as much as they do today. Both the elites who consciously feel this need and regular people who in their subconscious feel a need for a savior.”
“Science today serves to provoke war and dominate nations,” he said.
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