Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday, taking to the streets of Tehran to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and denounce President Trump’s recent statements about Iran.
On the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed House of Pahlavi, a flod of 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.
Iranian TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump's picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: "Thanks Mr. Trump for showing the real face of America.""America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader", a young Iranian man told state TV in a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last week, Trump put Iran "on notice" in reaction to a Jan. 29 Iranian missile test and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities. Iran said it will not halt its missile program. The statement may have had the effect of solidifying Iran's resolve as leading religious and political figures, including Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani had called on Iranians to join the rally on Friday to "show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic".
Addressing the crowds on Friday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also called on Iranians to “show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic.”
In a speech marking the revolution's anniversary, Rouhani urged Iran's faction-ridden elite to seek unity amid increased tensions with the United States. “Some inexperienced figures in the region and America are threatening Iran [...] They should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran. They should learn to respect Iran and Iranians. We will strongly confront any warmongering policies,” Rouhani told the crowd at the Azadi Square, as cited by Reuters, which reported that millions had shown up to commemorate the occasion across the country.
ELBINAWIRT Hassanvand: .POTUS, realDonaldTrump, lynched at Iran's revolution anniversary rally in Tehran pic.twitter.com/8Zm29bGQu1 February …— IntellectResistance (@IntelResist) February 10, 2017
As Reuters adds, the rallies were rife with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli sentiment. Some carried pictures of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May captioned "Death to the Devil Triangle". "This turnout of people is a strong response to false remarks by the new leaders of America," Rouhani told state TV, which said millions had turned out at rallies across Iran.
???? American????????, Israeli???????? flags trampled at Iran's 1979 revolution anniversary in Tehran pic.twitter.com/L8yCOxKZuV— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) February 10, 2017
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. Some marchers carried banners that read : "Thanks to American people for supporting Muslims".
The protest comes after Iran's most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Iranians earlier this week to demonstrate against the US to show Iran was not frightened of their “threats.” “[Trump] says ‘You should be afraid of me.’ No! The Iranian people will respond to his words on February 10 and will show their stance against such threats,” Khamenei said on Tuesday.
Last week Fox News published an interview with Donald Trump, in which he said “they [Iran] have total disregard for our country, they’re the number one terrorist state, they’re sending money all over the place and weapons,” referring to accusations frequently coming from the West that Tehran is supporting various Shiite rebel groups in the Middle East, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Palestinian group Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.
Earlier in February, the US also imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to a ballistic missile test, which Trump’s National Security Advisor Mike Flynn described as provocative and destabilizes the situation across the Middle East. The US claimed the test violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 which called on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles.” Flynn said that the Trump administration “condemns such actions by Iran,” and has “officially put Iran on notice."