Iranian lawmakers lit a paper of an American flag on fire while chanting "Death to America" after the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. (Image source: Time Magazine video screenshot)
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Angry lawmakers in Iran reacted in an extreme fashion to President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear accord, Time reported.
Members of the Iranian parliament expressed their displeasure with the decision Wednesday by burning a paper replica of an American flag while chanting "Death to America."
The lawmakers' anger is reflective of the feelings of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
"You heard last night that the president of America made some silly and superficial comments," Khamenei said. "He had maybe more than 10 lies in his comments. He threatened the regime and the people, saying you're doing this and that. Mr. Trump, I tell you on behalf of the Iranian people: You've made a mistake."
Why did they do this?
Trump officially pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal with Iran that he has long derided as a terrible arrangement, despite pleas from European allies to remain in the accord.
In particular, Germany, the United Kingdom and France urged the U.S. to stay in the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he plans to continue working with European leaders to preserve what's left of the deal, although there is a chance Iran will simply opt to restart its nuclear program.
What about 'Death to America'?
Although the display from the Iranian lawmakers provides a shocking visual, "Death to America" is a relatively common slogan in Iran, even in parliament, dating back nearly four decades.
The phrase originated during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and is not specific to any anger about Trump or the nuclear deal. It's not necessarily even referring to literal death of American citizens.
As Foad Izadi, assistant professor of world studies at the University of Tehran, explained it to USA Today:
"[The slogan] means death to American foreign policy. [Iranians] have problems with the American government, not the American people. When you walk around town, and people see you're an American, everyone wants to take care of you."
Similar chants for other countries, such as the former Soviet Union, England and Israel, have also been used in Iran over the years.
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