Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Crowds in Iran mark 40th anniversary of revolution

AFP, TEHRAN

People parade in the rain under national flags during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran, Iran, on Monday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said that “enemy” plots against the country would fail, as vast crowds marked 40 years since the Islamic revolution at a time of heightened tensions with the US.

“The presence of people today on the streets all over Islamic Iran ... means that the enemy will never reach its evil objectives,” Rouhani told those thronging Tehran’s Azadi Square, decrying a “conspiracy” involving Washington.

Chador-clad women, militia members in camouflage fatigues and ordinary citizens marched through the capital in freezing rain to commemorate the day in February 1979 that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ended millennia of royal rule.

The routes leading up to the square were packed with people as loudspeakers blared revolutionary anthems and slogans.

Life-size replicas of Iranian-made cruise and ballistic missiles stood in a statement of defiance after the US last year reimposed sanctions following its withdrawal from a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Rouhani lambasted calls from the US and Europe for a fresh agreement to curb Iran’s missile program.

“We have not, and will not, request permission from anyone for increasing our defensive power and for building all kinds of ... missiles,” he told the crowd.

Speaking from a stage that overlooked the square, the president warned that Iran was now far stronger than when it faced off against Iraq under then-president Saddam Hussein in a devastating war from 1980 to 1988.

“Today the whole world should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is considerably more powerful than the days of the war,” Rouhani said.

Seemingly reaching out to political critics within Iran, he added: “The more we allow different ideas, beliefs and [political] factions, the stronger our system will be.”

A pre-prepared resolution was read out ahead of his speech that proclaimed “unquestioning obedience to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” and called US President Donald Trump an “idiot.”

Trump’s chief foreign policy adviser on Monday said that the Islamic revolution inflicted four decades of “failure and broken promises” on the country.

“It’s been 40 yrs of failure. Now it’s up to the Iranian regime to change its behavior, & ultimately up to the Iranian people to determine the direction of their country,” US National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted.

The events on Monday were the culmination of official celebrations called the “10 Day Dawn” that marks the period from Feb. 1 to Feb. 11, 1979, when Shiite cleric Khomeini returned from exile and ousted the shah’s last government.

The state has played up this year’s anniversary as 40 is symbolic of maturity in the Islamic tradition and the age at which the Prophet Mohammed received revelations from God.

However, despite the official festivities, Iran faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and US sanctions.

Banners held by marchers or hung above them bore slogans including “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “We will trample on America” and “Forty years of challenge, forty years of US defeats.”

A number of Israeli and US national flags were set on fire by the crowds.

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