Iran's supreme leader says "American Sniper," Clint Eastwood's biopic about the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, encourages violence against Muslims, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.
In comments published in the daily IRAN Farsi newspaper, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "The movie 'Sniper' that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could," according to the Associated Press.
Khamenei, who reportedly hadn't seen the film but heard about its plot from others, added, "You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S."
"American Sniper" has not been released in Iran, where Khamenei controls the media.
Khamenei made the remarks three weeks ago while meeting with representatives of Iranian religious minorities in the country's parliament. It was unclear why the newspaper was publishing the comments now.
Word of Khamenei's comments comes amid ongoing debate about the politics and artistic merits of the Oscar-nominated film. It stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle, who served four tours of duty in Iraq and is considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.
Detractors have criticized "American Sniper" for glorifying war and serving as pro-U.S. propaganda, while supporters (and Eastwood) have argued that the film explores the toll that combat takes on soldiers and their loved ones.
Controversy notwithstanding, "Sniper" has been a hit at the box office, grossing more than $307 million in North America and an estimated $85 million overseas.
Meanwhile, the real-life trial of Kyle's accused killer, fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh, is underway in Stephenville, Texas.