Thousands of Iranians shouted: “Death to America” as they rallied yesterday on the anniversary of the 1979 US embassy takeover, in a setback to hopes for a thaw in relations.
Hardline and conservative factions had called for a massive demonstration 34 years after Islamist students stormed the embassy compound in Tehran, holding 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days.
The crisis, which was a turning point for Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, led to the severance of diplomatic ties with Washington and decades of hostility.
Calls for a high rally turnout went out on state television despite a recent taboo-breaking telephone call between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama.
The main rally was held in front of the former US embassy complex in Tehran, with protesters waving anti-US banners, chanting: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and burning US and Israeli flags.
Effigies of Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were held aloft by protesters, a considerable portion of whom were students.
Similar gatherings were reported in other cities across the Islamic republic, according to footage broadcast on state television.
Some protesters carried replicas of centrifuges used in enriching nuclear material as a sign of “resistance against sanctions,” amid ongoing negotiations with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program.
The US and Israel suspect Iran’s nuclear drive masks military objectives, despite Tehran’s denials.
Basij Militia head Mohammad Reza Naqdi and Iranian Vice President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari were reported by Iranian media to be among conservative figures and government officials attending the Tehran rally.
A large number of Iranian lawmakers issued a statement on Sunday vowing to partake in the annual state-organized event.