Iranians Celebrate 37th Anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution

Despite the landmark nuclear deal, some Iranians made a point of taunting the U.S.

Iranian schoolgirls wave their flag and hold an anti-U.S. slogan during celebrations to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, Tehran, February 11, 2016.
AFP

Iranians held nationwide celebrations Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1979 revolution that ousted a pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamists to power, with some making a point of taunting the U.S. despite Iran's landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

State television aired footage of rallies in Tehran and other cities and towns across the country, many of them in frigid winter weather conditions.

As in years past, demonstrators chanted slogans against the U.S. and Israel, and the streets in many cities were decorated with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli banners and posters.

Many top officials appeared at the rallies, including President Hassan Rohani. The moderate president described Iran as a peace-seeking nation working toward "stability in the region and the world." He urged Iranians to vote in the February 26 parliamentary elections, a showdown between his supporters and hardliners.

Qassem Suleimani, chief of the Quds Forces of the elite Revolutionary Guard, also showed up. His presence was notable because it followed rumors months ago that he had been seriously wounded in the civil war in Syria, where he has been repeatedly dispatched to help forces loyal to embattled President Bashar Assad.

While shying away from the spotlight, Suleimani has become a folk hero in Iran over his exploits in both Syria and Iraq. Earlier this week another purportedly recent picture of him appeared in Iranian media showing him standing next to an Iranian movie director.

Some protesters Thursday made a point of taunting the United States. At one rally, a group of demonstrators reconstructed a scene from last month of 10 American sailors kneeling in Iranian custody. The sailors were captured after two of their boats mistakenly entered Iranian territorial waters; they were released the next day.

Others burned an American flag.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani waves during a rally in Tehran to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, February 11, 2016.
AFP

Authorities also displayed an array of weaponry and military hardware, including the Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile and a version of the Shahed drone which flew over a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf last month.

The rallies commemorate February 11, 1979, when followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ousted 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.