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Iranians march against Trump 'threats' on revolution anniversary

AFP logoAFP 2/10/2017
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a massive march in Tehran on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, "the Iranian people must be spoken to with respect" © Provided by AFP Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a massive march in Tehran on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, "the Iranian people must be spoken to with respect"

Millions of Iranians marched on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution Friday in what the president described as a response to the new US administration and a rejection of "threatening language".

President Hassan Rouhani joined hundreds of thousands at an anniversary march through the capital, one of dozens of such events around the country.

"This turnout is a response to false remarks by the new rulers in the White House and the people are telling the world through their presence that the Iranian people must be spoken to with respect," Rouhani said.

"Iranians will make those using threatening language against this nation regret it.

"Anyone threating Iran's government and armed forces should know that our nation is vigilant."

US President Donald Trump has taken an increasingly strident line towards Iran since taking office last month, warning that it was "playing with fire" and "on notice".

Last week, he imposed sanctions on Iran over a January 29 ballistic missile test and officials warned more might follow.

Last weekend, new Pentagon chief James Mattis described Iran as "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world."

Placards bearing slogans against Trump were brandished by the marchers as they weaved their way through the streets of the capital in the wintry fog to the central Azadi (Freedom) Square.

- 'Not scared of threats' -

One placard showed a caricature of Trump being punched by a hand wearing a bracelet of the Iranian flag.

"Thanks Mr. Trump for revealing true face of the US," said another placard echoing comments made by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech this week.

"Iranians are not scared of threats," said another, bearing the faces of Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

The United States and Britain have long been derided by the regime as the "great Satan" and the "little Satan". Iran does not accept Israel's right to exist.

The rhetoric had been toned down after a July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including the United States.

But at Friday's marches, the traditional "Down with America" slogans were everywhere.

Trump has made no secret of his opposition to the deal agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama under which Iran agreed to controls on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

He said Iranians "don't appreciate how 'kind' President Obama was to them," in one tweet.

Rouhani was among a raft of top officials who attended the march in Tehran.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear deal was there.

So too was Major General Ghasem Suleimani, head of the foreign operations arm of the elite Revolutionary Guards, one of the most controversial figures in the regime for Western governments.

Iran's leading reformist, former president Mohammad Khatami whose two terms of office, from 1997 to 2005, saw a rapprochement with the West, was absent.

He has been under a strict media ban since mass protests against the 2009 reelection of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But he too urged supporters to join Friday's anniversary commemorations the "neutralise the conspiracies" faced by Iran.

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