Al Quds Day: Protesters burn flags and chant ‘death to Israel’ at annual rallies held across Tehran
Protesters across Iran are taking part in the country’s annual display of support for the Palestinian Territories, burning blue and white Israeli flags and chanting “Death to Israel!”
Calls decrying regional rival Saudi Arabia and Isis, which carried out its first terror attack on Iranian soil earlier this month, mingled with the more traditional anti-Israeli and “imperial” American sentiment on Friday.
Al-Quds Day (Arabic for Jerusalem) has been held on the last Friday of Ramadan in the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
It was created as a counter to Jerusalem Day, held this year on 24 May, on which Israelis celebrate the ‘reunification’ of the city after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. The international community has never recognised the move, and deems Israel’s presence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank an occupation.
The concept has since been unofficially adopted by several countries around the world, and often expresses opposition to Zionism as a whole as well as the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the importance of Jerusalem as a holy city in Islam.
Iran has sworn the destruction of the Jewish state, and backs militant groups with similar ideologies such as the Gaza Strip’s Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Flags and clothing bearing the insignia of both organisations were wore by many in the crowds.
On Friday, Iranian state television showed marchers heading to Friday prayers at Tehran’s University and demonstrations underway in several other towns and cities across the country.
The authorities took the opportunity to demonstrate Iran’s military power, displaying three surface-to-surface mid-range ballistic missiles for the television cameras. Newly re-elected moderate also President Hassan Rouhani took part in the march.
Hundreds of thousands of people also took part in rallies marking the the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in February.
The public celebrations took on a tense tone this year in the wake of the souring of relations between Tehran and Washington DC since US President Donald Trump took office: state TV showed people carrying pictures and effigies of the president, burning US and Israeli flags and shouting ‘Death to America!“, as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on citizens to show Iran is not afraid of American ”threats”.
Some carried pictures of Mr Trump, as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, captioned “Death to the Devil Triangle”.