Iranian leader links risings in North Africa to Iran’s revolution

Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Iran’s supreme leader praised the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia Friday and said they echo his country’s revolution more than three decades ago, state media reported.

“Today, developments in North Africa, (including) Egypt, Tunisia and some other countries have a special meaning for the Iranian nation,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a Friday prayer sermon, according to Press TV.

“This is what was always referred to as the Islamic awakening created by the victory of the great revolution of the Iranian nation.”

Iran’s revolution in 1979 toppled the shah of Iran and ushered in an Islamic republic.

But the ferment in North Africa has been fueled by secular concerns.

Protests against corruption and poor living conditions in Tunisia forced the ouster of the country’s president. Demonstrations in Egypt have called for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak.

Khamenei said Tunisia’s former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had been dependent on the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency.

He called the Mubarak regime, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, a “lackey of the Zionist regime.”

He referred to Egyptians’ fight for “dignity and honor” and said that Mubarak’s biggest transgression was to make Egypt an American tool.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been adversaries with Israel and the United States since the Iranian revolution occurred.

Khamenei said Iran’s enemies have been launching a psychological war against it for the past 32 years, and he said the country’s enemies have been trying to undermine the Islamic revolution since the 2009 presidential election.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term in what was regarded by many Iranians as a rigged election. That poll that stoked popular protests in Iran.