Nat CastañedaComment

A look back on Iran's 1979 revolution as Iranians celebrate 38th anniversary

Nat CastañedaComment
A look back on Iran's 1979 revolution as Iranians celebrate 38th anniversary

Iranians on Friday marked the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution with nationwide celebrations and mass rallies that saw people step on large U.S. 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.

Security forces stand guard at an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, under the Azadi, 'Freedom' monument tower in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)


Iranian soldiers guard the route of a military parade near Shahyad Monument during 57th anniversary of the Armed Forces, Nov. 17, 1978 in Tehran. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)


At the Tehran rallies Friday, 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 U.S. flags and pictures of current and former U.S. presidents lay scattered on the streets - so they could be trampled by the marchers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)


The Ayatollah Khomeini speaks to followers at Behesht Zahra Cemetery after his arrival in Tehran, Iran, ending 14 years of exile, Feb. 1 , 1979. Khomeini prayed for the victims of the Islamic struggle against the Shah of Iran. (AP Photo/FY)



Iranians march in an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)


Thousands of Tehranians took to the streets, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 1979 in Tehran, Iran after word had spread, that the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had left the country seeking medical care and exile. (AP Photo/Saris)


Iran and the U.S. have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, when Iranian students stormed the American Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Friday's rallies commemorated Feb. 11 of that year, when followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ousted the U.S.-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."

Another one with a picture of Trump said: "Thanks Mr. Trump ... for revealing the face of the U.S." - a reference to remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, earlier this week.

Iranians march toward a poster on the street which shows a U.S. President Donald Trump and a sentence referring to a quotation of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)


Khamenei said on Tuesday that the "newcomer" Trump has shown the "real face" of the United States. He spoke after Trump tweeted - following a ballistic missile test by Iran - that Iranians were "playing with fire," saying they "don't appreciate how 'kind' President (Barack) Obama was to them. Not me!"

Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers, in which Tehran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, but he has not said what he plans to do about it.

His administration said Iran was "on notice" over the missile test, and imposed new sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian companies and individuals.

In Tehran, some of the demonstrators threw balls and darts targeting pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Others burned an American flag. The semi-official ILNA news agency reported that an Israeli flag was also burned.

Iranians march on a portrait of U.S. President Donald Trump and the picture of U.S. flag in an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)


Iran rebels pose with a U.S. flag they bayoneted upside down on trees at Sultanabad Garrison northeast of Tehran, Iran on Feb. 12, 1979. (AP Photo/Saris)


Many ranking officials attended the ceremony in Tehran, including Gen. Qassem Soleimani who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, which focuses on foreign operations such as the war in Syria and Iraq's fight against the Islamic State group where the Shiite power Iran supports Iraq's government.

Rouhani told reporters prior to addressing the crowds that Iranians will make the U.S. regret using threatening language, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

"Anyone who speaks the language of threat to this nation, the Iranian nation will make him regret" it, he said, without elaborating.

"This presence (of demonstrators) is a response to wrong comments by new leaders in the White House, and they announce with their presence to the world that they (U.S. leaders) should talk with respect and not use threatening language to the Iranian nation," Rouhani added.

Iranian state television aired footage of commemorations in Tehran and other cities and towns across the country, many of them held in sub-zero temperatures.

In the central city of Kashan, the official IRNA news agency said the country's prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, told reporters that members of the Islamic State group have been arrested near Tehran. "They planned to sabotage" the anniversary rallies, he said.

And Khamenei's senior adviser, Gen. Rahim Safavi, said during a similar rally in the southern city of Ahvaz that the "evil triangle" or America, Britain and Israel "cannot create a serious military threat against Iran."

Tehran resident Mohammad Soufi, 33, a medical lab technician, said Trump's recent stance encouraged him and his wife to participate in the rally this year.

"We did not participate in the rally for more than 10 years," he said. "This year my wife told me: 'Let's go out to show to the world, particularly Trump, that we love our county despite differences'."

Sorraya Khalili , a 44-year-old hairstylist, said she was out to support the government and object to the "U.S. bullying of Iran."

Iranian school girls flash the victory sign during an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the late pro-U.S. Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)


In this Dec. 10, 1978 picture, thousands crowd the streets during demonstrations against the Shah in Tehran. The popular revolt against the shah raised alarm bells in the West, which saw the shah as a trusted ally and counterweight to hard-line Arab regimes and Palestinian radicals. The face of the revolution was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose demeanor, vehemently anti-American rhetoric and stern interpretation of Islam challenged not only Western interests but also Western values. (AP Photo)


"Why people like Trump think they can make decisions for the entire world? Iran is an independent country like the United States," she added. "I wish Americans get to visit Iran to find out we are similar to them; we warmly welcome our guests and respect them."

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted a photograph on his Twitter account showing protesters with posters with the words: "American people are welcome and invited to visit Iran."

Zarif also said that Iranians on their anniversary praised American people for rejecting Trump's executive action on the visa ban. Iran was among the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban, which remains suspended while U.S. courts debate its legality.

Chanting "Long Live Khomeini" and "Death to the Shah," 100,000 people gather in front of the mosque inside the Bazaar on Monday, Jan. 15, 1979 in Tehran for a massive rally against the Shah. Troops stood by as demonstrators showered them with flowers, and kisses. (AP Photo)


A supporter of Ayatollah Khomeini stands on Saturday, Feb. 10, 1979 at Tehran Street, holding an M16 rifle. Hospitals reported 62 dead and more than 300 wounded as troops battled dissident air force cadets and armed civilian supporters of Khomeini. (AP Photo)


Teenagers set fire in the streets of the holy city of Qom to mark the "National Day of Mourning" called by exiled Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini in memory of those killed in recent clashes with military, Dec. 18, 1978. Several people were wounded in renewed outbreaks of violence in Tehran. (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz)


Iranians hold photographs of relatives who they claim died from torture inflicted by Iran's secret police in Tehran's main Behesht-Zahra Cemetery, Dec. 19, 1978. (AP Photo)


An Iranian soldier holds a gun with a carnation stuck in it during a demonstration in Isfahan, Dec. 1979. (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz)


A vendor holds the first edition of the Tehran national newspaper Kayhan in Tehran, which like other papers was published after 62 days or shut down due to martial law, Jan. 6, 1979, Iran. (AP Photo)


Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian religious leader is shown at a news conference in Teheran on Feb. 5, 1979.  (AP Photo)


A small Iranian girl stands on a captured tank at the entrance to Niavaran palace where the Shah once lived, 1979. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)


Hundreds of thousands are gathered around Shayad Arch, on Saturday, Jan. 27, 1979 in Tehran on the traditional anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad death to demand the return of religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The demonstrators, marching through Tehran streets, chanted slogans in praise of Khomeini whose return from 14 years exile was delayed by the government, and the crowd shouted also “death to Bakhtiar, if Khomeini is delayed.” (AP Photo/Dear)


Tehranians climb the pedestal of a toppled Shah statue waving flags and holding up banners, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 1979 in Tehran as they took to downtown streets to demonstrate for the constitution which is questioned by the movement of Ayatollah Khomeini. (AP Photo/Saris)


View of a massive demonstration against the Shah of Iran in downtown Tehran, Iran, Oct. 9, 1978. (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz)


A demonstrator clubbed down by a stick wielding army officer (left) during one of the skirmishes between demonstrators and the army downtown, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 1979 in Tehran is helped up by a steel-helmeted soldier. Soldiers had orders to use clubs instead of their guns when dealing with the demonstrators. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)


A Muslim couple appeals to Iranian soldiers in downtown Tehran, on Friday, Jan. 26, 1979 to stop firing at demonstrators, but they were stopped by the gesticulating unit commander. At least five persons were killed and several wounded, when they army fired sharp rounds to quell the riots. (AP Photo/ Bob Dear)


A mullah rides on the shoulders of rioters in Tehran, gesticulates as he tries to calm the mob that chased a traffic policeman to beat him up, Jan. 30, 1979. The policeman escaped into a house. (AP Photo/Bob Dear)


A group of women in Tiran, central Iran, show their support for the Shah by carrying a portrait of the royal family during a loyalist demonstration Nov. 30, 1978. The monarch enjoys some of his strongest support in the country's rural areas. (AP Photo)


Islamic Fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, center, waves to followers as he appears on the balcony of his headquarters in Tehran, Iran, on Friday, Feb. 2, 1979, the second day of his return from exile. Thousands jammed surrounding streets to get a view of the Ayatollah. (AP Photo/Campion)


Two Iranian soldiers hold up a portrait of the Shah, as the army shows its strength in Tehran on a parade ground near Niavaran Palace, Jan. 23, 1979. Officers asserted that the army will stay united and that soldiers will "shed their blood" to maintain the monarchy and the nation's civilian government. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)


A young Muslim woman chants "God is great" while carrying portraits of religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini and a young urban guerilla who was killed in a street battle with security forces, during demonstrations on Jan. 22, 1979 in Tehran. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)


Demonstrators and the Iranian army are back in Tehran streets, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 1979 after word had spread that the army sealed off Tehran airport to prevent an Iran Airlines jumbo from take off for Paris, where it was supposed to bring back to Iran the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's religious leader, Friday. (AP Photo/ Bob Dear)


Relatives stand in the morgue of Behesht Zahra, Tehran's main public cemetery, on Sunday, Jan. 28, 1979 lamenting two of the victims of recent riots. Friday and Sunday brought back the days of the bloodiest riots with a death toll of about 30 in Tehran, Iran Sunday, and more than 200 wounded. (AP Photo/Saris)


Demonstrators show their hands that they had dipped into the blood of friends who were wounded or killed when anti-government rioters clashed with the army in downtown streets in Tehran, Jan. 26, 1979. At least ten demonstrators were killed by bullets, and several injured, when the army used sharp rounds to quell the riots. (AP Photo/Bernhard Frye)


Dozens of demonstrators who have invaded an Iranian army truck, downtown on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1979 in Tehran proceed in their joyful demonstration on the second day after the Shah's departure. Again hundreds were in the streets, clanking their horns and decorating the cars windshields with pictures of religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini. (AP Photo/Saris)


Anti-government demonstrators dive for cover, as Iranian army soldiers fire rounds in downtown street, on Friday, Jan. 26, 1979 in Tehran as severe clashes erupted. Reportedly at least five persons were killed, and others wounded. It was Friday, the day when Ayatollah Khomeini was expected to come back to Iran, but was prevented, as the Iranian army had closed the airport. (AP Photo/ Bob Dear)


More than a million supporters of an Islamic republic assembled around Shayad (Shah Memorial) monument in Tehran in a powerful show of strength against the civilian government left behind by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Jan. 19, 1979. Similar demonstrations were held all over the country, most of them peaceful. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris)

Text from the AP news story, Iranians trample on US flag, mark 1979 Islamic Revolution, by Amir Vahdat.

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