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article imageIran fetes 40 years of Islamic revolution at Khomeini tomb

By Kay Armin Serjoie (AFP)     Feb 1, 2019 in World

Thousands of Iranians packed the mausoleum of the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on Friday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew a centuries-old dynasty.

Ceremonies for the 1979 revolution were launched at 9:33 am (0603 GMT), the exact time that Khomeini returned to Iran after 14 years in exile and his plane touched down at Tehran airport.

As an army band played revolutionary anthems, the huge hall of the mausoleum was filled with people from all walks of life, among them schoolchildren dressed in the red, white and green of the Iranian flag.

Young girls clad in black chador or hijab Islamic attire had slogans on their hand reading, "My life for the leader" or "Long live Iran."

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the influential experts assembly which appoints Iran's supreme leader, delivered a keynote speech rebuking political factions seeking better ties with Washington.

"Curses on the wrong school of thought that thinks we can't run the country unless America helps us," he said, shaking a raised left hand.

"America's power is on the decline, we should not be afraid of America," Jannati said as the crowd shouted slogans such as "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".

On February 1 each year, the "Dahe-ye Fajr" (10 days of Dawn) celebrations start in Iran to mark the anniversary of Khomeini's return after the pro-Western shah fled Iran following widespread demonstrations.

The celebrations culminate on 11 February (22 Bahman, in the Persian calendar) which marks the fall of 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran.

- 'Whole world tried to destroy it' -

For the 40th anniversary, decorative lights and posters have been put up in main streets in Tehran and new murals of "martyrs" painted on walls.

The tomb of the late founder of Iran's Islamic Republic  Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini  behind a ...
The tomb of the late founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, behind a grill at his mausoleum in southern Tehran
STR, afp/AFP

ISNA news agency posted a video of ships blasting their horns in celebration in the Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran.

Two arms and military equipment fairs have opened in the capital, showcasing the weaponry developed and manufactured in Iran over the past four decades, especially its prized ballistic missiles.

From the very start, the Islamic republic faced challenges from communist former anti-shah allies as well as from separatist minorities in border regions of Iran.

In September 1980, Saddam Hussein's Iraq launched a war that dragged on for eight years.

And the November 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and hostage-taking of its staff for more than 400 days triggered the still ongoing hostility between the two countries.

An Iranian girl holds a poster of the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic  Ayatollah Ruhollah Kh...
An Iranian girl holds a poster of the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on the 40th anniversary of his return from exile at his mausoleum in southern Tehran
STR, afp/AFP

Iran's economy has nosedived since Washington reinstated sanctions after US President Donald Trump last May withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

But defiance rang out at the mausoleum. "With the leadership we are alive and we will endure," the choir chanted.

Forty years have passed since the revolution and throughout these 40 years the whole world tried to destroy it... but they were unsuccessful" said Jannati.

"Even now look what they are trying to do to destroy (the revolution)... This accursed America will do anything it can to defeat Islam," he said.

"The people are ready to sacrifice their lives, let alone their livelihoods, but they will not give up their religion."

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