Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to begin a nationwide celebration of the 38th anniversary of the country’s 1979 revolution, chanting against the US and Trump after tension reached a critical point between the two countries.
On the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed shah, marchers including hundreds of military personnel and policemen headed towards Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square.
They carried “Death to America” banners and effigies of Trump, while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs.
The relation between the two countries has deteriorated in the past weeks and the tension a critical point after Trump’s inauguration.
Trump has said during his election campaign that the nuclear deal with Iran as “disastrous” and said it would be his “number one priority” to dismantle it.
These threats became clearer after Trump’s inauguration, as he signed an executive order temporarily barring thousands from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Iran, from obtaining visas to travel to the United States.
In a clear challenge, a ballistic missile test was conducted by Iran which was said to have capacity to hold nuclear heads.
After that Trump announced that “we’re officially putting Iran on notice” and “Iran is playing with fire.” In addition, he declared new sanctions against Iranian figures, organizations, and economics.
Rally against the US
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s most powerful authority, had called on Iranians on Tuesday to take part in the demonstrations to show Iran was not frightened of American “threats”.
State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump’s picture in a Tehran street.
“America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader Khamenei,” a young Iranian man told state TV.
Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani also called on Iranians to join the rally on Friday to “show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic”.
In an address to crowds gathered at the Azadi [Freedom] Square, Rouhani issued a warning to those using “threatening language” against the country.
“Some inexperienced figures in the region and America are threatening Iran … They should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran,” Rouhani said.
“They should learn to respect Iran and Iranians … We will strongly confront any war-mongering policies.”
The official Mehr News Agency reported that Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, and Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the atomic energy agency, had also joined the Tehran march.
The Tehran ceremony was rife with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli sentiment. Some people carried pictures of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May captioned “Death to the Devil Triangle”.
U.S. flags were burned as is traditional although many Iranians on social media such as Twitter and Facebook used the hashtag #LoveBeyondFlags to urge an end to flag-burning during the anniversary.
They also thanked Americans for opposing Trump’s executive order banning entry to the United States to travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries, including Iran. Trump’s travel ban is being challenged in U.S. courts.