Iranians Stage Mass Protest Against ‘Great Satan’ (شيطان بزرگ) U.S.
Thousands of Iranians chanted “Death to America” as they staged a mass protest against the “Great Satan” to mark the 31st anniversary of the capture of the American embassy by Islamist students. Iran annually on November 4 marks the anniversary of the capture of the US embassy by Islamist students in Tehran in 1979, months after the Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed Shah. Waving Iranian flags and carrying anti-US banners alongside posters of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the largely young crowd also shouted anti-Israel slogans outside the now closed US embassy. Iranian schoolgirls step on a US flag while holding cartoons depicting US President Barack Obama outside. Banners saying “I will give my life for the leader (Khamenei)” and another quoting Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as saying, “If you want to shout, shout at the US”, were displayed at the embassy compound, an AFP correspondent reported. The demonstrators gathered in front of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, now referred to as the “Den of Espionage”, carrying flags, banners, chanted slogans against the U.S. and Israel. They chanted slogans of “Death to the U.S.” and “Down with Zionism”, and vowed to follow the path of the late founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini. The demonstrators condemned the Western and U.S. imposed sanctions against the country and said that they still consider the U.S. as Iran’s main enemy and the great Satan. The resolution which was issued at the end of the gathering called for resistance against the U.S. and western policies against the Islamic Republic. The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on April 7, 1980 after a group of Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and captured some 60 U.S. diplomats in 1979, with 52 of them being in captivity for 444 days in the hostage crisis.
Iranians have considered the United States and the United Kingdom as Imperialist states, who have a long history of interfering in Iran’s internal affairs. In 1907, the Anglo-Russian Agreement between Russia and Britain divided Iran into spheres of influence, challenging Iran’s moves toward independence. At the height of the Cold War, the administration of the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a joint Anglo-American operation to overthrow elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq, in the pretext that his nationalist aspirations would lead to an eventual communist takeover. The operation was code-named Operation Ajax. At first, the military coup seemed to fail, and the Shah fled the country. After widespread rioting —and with help from the CIA and British intelligence services— Mossadeq was defeated and the Shah returned to power, ensuring support for Western oil interests and snuffing the perceived threat of communist expansion. General Fazlollah Zahedi, who led the military coup, became prime minister.
Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled to Turkey for his outspoken denunciation of the Shah’s Status of Forces bill, which granted U.S. military personnel diplomatic immunity for crimes committed on Iranian soil. From Turkey, Khomeini moved to Iraq in 1965 and remained there until 1978 before moving to Paris for four months. He then returned to Iran and led the 1979 Iranian revolution.
The United States supported the Shah starting from the 1950s, but this waned toward the end of the 1970s, particularly under the Carter administration. The Iranians hated the Shah, and felt that the U.S was against them. When Saddam Hussein came into power, the U.S also at first supported him. Demonstrators commonly chanted slogans such as “Independence, Freedom, and Islamic Republic”.
“Obama has acted very weakly and badly when it comes to his foreign policy,” Zaragami, who now heads Iranian state media, told the cheering crowd. “The reason for that is that he is using an array of advisers who are exhausted bureaucrats.” The organisers of the anti-US demonstration, in their final declaration, said that Iran considers “America as the Great Satan and enemy number one”. US-Iranian animosity rose markedly during the tenure of former US president George W. Bush, who lumped Iran as part of an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The bitterness between the two nations has risen further since 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office. The hardliner repeatedly launches anti-US tirades. Iran’s Khamenei, the all-powerful leader of the Islamic republic, has also made it clear he still distrusts the United States despite Bush successor Obama’s initial diplomatic overtures towards Tehran. Khamenei praised the embassy takeover 31 years ago and expressed his distrust of US leaders. “This act is the symbol of courage and intrepidness of the young revolutionary generation against the grandeur of America, because the capture of the den of spies (US embassy) destabilised the power of America,” he told a gathering of students on the eve of the anniversary.
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