Iranians today marked the anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution with nationwide celebrations and mass rallies that saw people step on large US flags laid out on the streets while President Hassan Rouhani called the new American administration “a problem.” This year, the anniversary came against the backdrop of remarks by President Donald Trump, who has already engaged in a war of words with Iran’s leadership and put Tehran “on notice” over its recent ballistic missile test. At the Tehran rallies, demonstrators chanted traditional slogans against the United States and Israel, and later, hundreds of thousands marched toward the city’s central Azadi Square, where Rouhani addressed the crowds, telling them that Iran will strongly answer any threat from its enemies.
“All of them should know that they must talk to the Iranian nation with respect and dignity,” Rouhani declared. “Our nation will strongly answer to any threat. (Iranians) will resist before enemies until the end.” Rouhani called Iran the home of “lions” but said the country does not seek hostility. “We are not after tensions in the region and the world. We are united in the face of bullying and any threat.”
Many of the marchers carried the Iranian flag, others had banners and posters with revolutionary slogans. Printed US flags and pictures of current and former US presidents lay scattered on the streets so they could be trampled by the marchers. Iran and the US have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, when Iranian students stormed the American Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
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Today’s rallies commemorated February 11 of that year, when followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ousted the US-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi. The United States helped orchestrate the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, which brought Pahlavi to power and set the stage for decades of mistrust between the countries. Some of the posters distributed in English on Friday read: “Thanks to American people for supporting Muslims.”