Iran president slams Trump's 'shameful' Bible photo op

Donald Trump outside St John's Episcopal Church (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski) (AFP/File)
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Tehran (AFP) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday accused Donald Trump of committing a "shameful act" by posing with a Bible outside a Washington church after police cleared peaceful protesters from the area.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied in cities across the United States since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man killed by police in Minneapolis.

On Monday law enforcement including military police used tear gas to disperse protesters, clearing a path for Trump to walk from the White House to the St John's church for photographs as he held a Bible.

"It's a shameful act coming from a president who, wanting to act against his own people, seized the heavenly book, the Gospel, and brandished it," Rouhani said in a televised address.

"The Bible is a book that invites all people to peace, serenity and humanity. The Gospel is not a book that orders the murder of innocent people," he added.

Muslims see Christians and Jews as "people of the book" and revere many of the same prophets.

"We are... witnesses to one of the worst days in America's political and social history and the great injustice done to black people," Rouhani said.

"What happened to George Floyd has become a world event."

Tensions between long-time foes Tehran and Washington soared in 2018 after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The two countries have come to the brink of a conflict twice over the past year and frequently exchange diplomatic barbs.