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World

AFP
February 12, 2019

Massive crowds mark 40th anniversary of Iran revolution

World

AFP
Tue, Feb 12, 2019

TEHRAN: Iran´s president on Monday insisted "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 United States.

"The presence of people today on the streets all over Islamic Iran... means that the enemy will never reach its evil objectives," a defiant President Hassan Rouhani told those thronging Tehran´s Azadi (Freedom) 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 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 programme.

Rouhani lambasted calls from the United States and Europe for a fresh agreement to curb Iran´s missile programme.

"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 flower-festooned stage overlooking the square, the president  said: "Today the whole world should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is considerably more powerful than the days of the war." 

Seemingly reaching out to his political critics within the country, the president 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 said on Monday 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," John Bolton tweeted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran that this year could be the last time it celebrates the anniversary if it attacks his country.

"If this regime makes the awful mistake of trying to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa, it will not succeed," he said. "However, this would be the last anniversary of the revolution that they celebrate."

The events Monday were the culmination of official celebrations called the "10 Day Dawn" that marks the period between February 1, 1979 and February 11 when Shiite cleric Khomeini retuned 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 Prophet Mohammed received revelations from God.

But despite the official festivities today´s Islamic republic faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and US sanctions.

'Support the revolution'

State television offered blanket coverage of the commemorations, showing marches in cities ranging from Abadan in southwestern Iran to Mashhad in the northeast.

Banners held by marchers or hung along the streets bore slogans including "Death to America", "Death to Israel", "we will trample on America", "forty yeas of challenge, forty years of US defeats".

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