Iranians chanting ‘death to America’ mark anniversary of 1979 revolution

Hundreds of thousands of people, some of them chanting “death to America”, have poured onto the streets of Iran to mark the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On February 11 that year, Iran’s military stood down after days of street battles, allowing the revolutionaries to sweep across the country while the government of US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi resigned and the Islamic Republic was born.

In Tehran, despite rain, crowds streamed in from the capital’s far-flung neighbourhoods to mass in the central Azadi, or Freedom Square, waving Iranian flags and chanting “death to America”.

There was strong anti-US sentiment among the crowds (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Chants of “death to Israel” and “death to Britain” followed, and demonstrators burned US and Israeli flags.

Iranian state TV, which said millions participated in the celebrations, ran archive footage of the days of the uprising and played revolutionary songs. It later broadcast footage showing crowds across the country of 80 million.

The six-mile-long downtown Enghelab, or Revolution Street, was decorated with huge balloons as loudspeakers blared out revolutionary and nationalist songs.

Every year, the anniversary festivities start on February 1 – the day Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile to become the supreme leader as Shiite clerics took power. The celebrations continue for 10 days, climaxing on February 11.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke from a podium in Tehran (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

This year’s anniversary comes as Iran grapples with the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s decision last May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and restore tough US sanctions.

Speaking from a podium in central Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani addressed the crowds for nearly 45 minutes, lashing out at Iran’s enemies — America and Israel — and claiming their efforts to “bring down” the country through sanctions will not succeed.

He said: “The presence of people in this celebration means that plots by the enemies … have been defused. They will not achieve their ill-omened aims.”

- Press Association

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