Iran marks anniversary of Islamic Revolution amid protests – KGET 17

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran celebrated the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on Saturday amid nationwide anti-government protests and heightened tensions with the West.

Thousands of Iranians marched through the main streets and squares decorated with flags, balloons and placards with revolutionary and religious slogans. The army displayed its ballistic missiles and cruise missiles Emad and Sejjil, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles Shahed-136 and Mohajer.

Protesters began taking to the streets in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who was detained by the country’s morality police. Those demonstrations, which initially focused on Iran’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab, soon turned into calls for a new revolution.

In a speech in Azadi Square in the capital Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi called the protests a project of Iran’s enemies aimed at preventing the nation from continuing its achievements.

Raisi called the celebration “epic” and a show of “national integrity,” praising the country’s post-revolutionary achievements.

The remarks prompted the crowd to chant “Death to the USA”.

Meanwhile, Telewebion, a web TV service affiliated with Iran’s state television, was briefly hacked during Raisi’s speech, Iranian media reported. News website says the outage lasted 19 seconds.

“Edalate Ali” or “The Justice of Ali”, the hacker group in a 44-second video posted on Twitter called on people to take part in protests across the country next week and urged Iranians to withdraw their money from their banks.

Chants such as “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the Islamic Republic” were heard on the video, and a masked person with a female voice read the message. The group previously hacked the infamous Evin prison and other government facilities.

The anniversary comes after two years in which celebrations were largely confined to vehicles due to the pandemic that has killed more than 140,000 people in Iran, according to official figures, the highest national death toll in the Middle East.

The processions in Tehran on Saturday started from several points and converged at Azadi Square. TV showed crowds in many cities and towns and said hundreds of thousands of people took part.

The celebration was a show of power for the protesters. State television referred to the demonstrations as a “foreign-backed rebellion” rather than domestic frustration over Amini’s death. Anger also spread over the collapse of Iran’s rial against the US dollar and Tehran’s arming of Russia with bomb-carrying drones in its war against Ukraine, which also angered the West. Iran says it gave drones to Russia before the war.

The Iranian government has not offered a total death toll or the number of people it has arrested. But activists outside the country say at least 528 people were killed and 19,600 detained in the ensuing crackdown.

Last week, Iranian state media said the supreme leader had ordered amnesty or reduced prison terms for “tens of thousands” of people detained during the protests, acknowledging for the first time the scale of the crackdown.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decree, part of the supreme leader’s annual pardon before the anniversary, came as authorities have yet to say how many people they detained in the demonstrations.

Citing amnesty, Raisi on Saturday called on those “deceived by the enemy” to “return to the nation” and promised that his administration would show mercy to them as well.

The crowds waved Iranian flags, chanted slogans and carried placards with traditional anti-Western slogans such as “Death to America” ​​and “Death to Israel”. Some burned US and Israeli flags, a ritual at pro-government rallies.

The Islamic Revolution began with widespread unrest in Iran over the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah, terminally and secretly ill with cancer, fled Iran in January 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini then returned from exile, and the government fell on February 11, 1979, after days of mass demonstrations and clashes between protesters and security forces.

Later in April, Iranians voted to become the Islamic Republic, a Shia theocracy with Khomeini as the country’s first supreme leader, with the final say on all state matters.

A few months later, when the US allowed the Shah to enter the country for cancer treatment in New York, anger boiled over in Tehran, leading to the takeover of the US Embassy in November 1979 by militant students. The latest hostage crisis sparked decades of animosity.

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