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Iranian Hardliners Protest Against US, Israel in Annual 'Jerusalem Day' Rally - 2002-11-29


Tens of thousands of Iranian hard-liners rallied in Tehran Friday to mark the country's annual Jerusalem Day, a day set aside to protest Israel's control of Jerusalem.

Dressed in camouflage uniforms and white shrouds to signify martyrdom, the demonstrators shouted their loyalty to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and burned U.S. and Israeli flags, while chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel."

Many of the demonstrators, including members of Iran's conservative militia, declared their readiness to combat Iran's internal as well as external enemies.

Coming after days of protests by students demanding greater freedom of speech, Friday's demonstration also served as a message to the students.

In a sermon after the rally, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at prayers that those who back Zionism are trying to create discord in Iran, in an effort to keep Iranian youth away from the Islamic revolution.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has accused hard-liners of trying to create political tension, in an effort to crack down on the reformist movement's demands for more freedom.

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