The assembled crowds were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which saw Ayatollah Khomeini rise to power in the beleaguered Middle Eastern nation. The Khomeini-led revolution was instrumental in toppling the US-backed shah. It also overturned 2,500 years of monarchical rule and brought hard-line Shiite clerics to power.
The clerics, known to the Iranian people as “Mullahs”, now rule the nation with impunity, with grave consequences for women’s rights and fundamental human freedoms.
Across Iran on Friday, sirens rang out from trains and boats and church bells chimed at 9.33am — the exact time Khomeini’s chartered Air France Boeing 747 touched down 40 years ago at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.
Ten days of festivities – known as the “Ten Days of Dawn” are set to ensue in Iran ending on February 11.
As part of the commemorations, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the influential expert’s assembly, which appoints the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, delivered a keynote speech rebuking factions seeking better ties with Washington.
Shaking a raised left hand, he said: “Curses on the wrong school of thought that thinks we can’t run the country unless America helps us.
“America’s power is on the decline, we should not be afraid of America.”
Meanwhile the crowd shouted slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, the Times of Israel reported.
Iranian officials — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani — on Wednesday paid homage to Khomeini’s tomb “to renew allegiance” to the late leader.
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Mass pro-regime demonstrations will be broadcast live across the nation in a show of support for Khomeini’s Iran.
However, anti-regime protests have also been occurring across the vast country, with pro-regime-change activist Hossein Abedini telling Express.co.uk: “Iran is in a very explosive situation now.
“The Iranian people believe the regime is rotten in its entirety.
“During the protests, people have been shouting ‘down with Khamenei’ and ‘death to Rouhani’.”