News / Middle East

Iran Marks 1979 Revolution Anniversary

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, clenches his fist from his car, as he attends a rally marking the 32nd anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution, Feb 11, 2011
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, clenches his fist from his car, as he attends a rally marking the 32nd anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution, Feb 11, 2011

Tens of thousands have gathered in Tehran's Azadi Square as the country marks the 32nd anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled Iran's U.S.-backed Shah and brought hardline clerics to power.

Referring to protests in Egypt, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday uprisings across the Arab world show an emerging Middle East, one that will have no interference from the United States or Israel.

The massive crowds waved Iranian flags as they marched in solidarity with Egyptian anti-government protesters and chanted "Death to America" and "Mubarak, congratulations on the uprisings."

Mr. Ahmadinejad directed part of his speech to the Egyptian protesters, telling them they have the right to be free and to choose the kind of government and rulers they want.

Iran has thrown its support behind Egyptian protesters in recent weeks, urging them to establish an Islamic regime.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has hailed anti-government protests in Egypt and Tunisia, saying they echo the 1979 Islamic revolution in his country.  But some analysts deny the situation is an Islamic takeover, saying it is more based on human rights, freedom and liberty.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council condemned the Iranian government for its recent arrest of opposition leaders and jamming of the BBC Persian television in the country, saying it "underscores the hypocrisy of the Iranian leadership."  

The NSC statement said the government's support of the Egyptian protests is "empty talk," and urged Iran to allow its people the same "universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate" like that of the people in Cairo.

Ahead of the anniversary, Iranian authority placed opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest after he called for a rally in support of the anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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