Men outside a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, followed an attack by gunmen, March 15, 2019

Iran’s regime has tried to take advantage, in its battle with the US, of the killing of 49 people in New Zealand by attackers on Friday.

The gunmen fired on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif used Twitter to blame the West and Israel, illustrating his point with a photo of Donald Trump:

Zarif continued, “Iranians are deeply shocked and saddened by Christchurch terror today. But we’re not surprised. Banned from travel to the US, and not allowed to abide by our faith if attending French schools, we Iranians know too well what bigotry and hatred of Islam augur.”

President Hassan Rouhani took a slightly different line, focusing on the need to challenge Islamophobia but also pinning blame on Iranian foes in Washington and other capitals:

This barbaric crime, which resulted in the martyrdom and injury of a number of innocent and defenseless worshippers, is another proof of the need for an all-out fight against terrorism and hate-mongering toward other religions and ethnic groups, and the Islamophobia which is common in the West, and unfortunately fueled by certain Western governments.

Since his inauguration in 2013, Rouhani has declared pursuit of a World Against Violent Extremism. At the same time, the regime has responded to criticism of its human rights record and activities in the Middle East by blaming the “West” and Israel for racism, discrimination, and violence.

Tension has escalated since Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal and comprehensive Amercian sanctions imposed on Tehran last November. The regime is struggling with economic problems from long-standing internal issues as well as the sanctions.