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TEHRAN: This handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency on February 11, 2024, shows Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi addressing the crowd in Tehran's Azadi (freedom) square, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.  — AFP
TEHRAN: This handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency on February 11, 2024, shows Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi addressing the crowd in Tehran's Azadi (freedom) square, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. — AFP
Iran marks revolution, demands expelling Zionist entity from UN

TEHRAN: Iran marked 45 years since its Islamic revolution with a ceremony Sunday in which President Ebrahim Raisi condemned arch foe the Zionist entity over the Gaza war and demanded it be expelled from the United Nations.

Since Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the region’s main Shiite Muslim power has had deeply hostile relations with the Zionist entity, the United States and Britain.

Tensions have spiraled further since the bloodiest ever Gaza war erupted on October 7 with the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s attack on the Zionist entity, in turn sparking violence between Iran-backed militant groups and US forces.

Support for the Palestinian cause and harsh criticism of the United States — often dubbed the “Great Satan” in Iran — and the Zionist entity dominated ceremonies marking the anniversary. In Tehran, Raisi accused the Zionist entity of committing “genocide” in Gaza with the support of the United States and other Western countries.

Supporters chanted “Down with the United States”, “Down with (the Zionist entity)” and “Down with the United Kingdom” at the square, where Iranian-made missiles and other military hardware were on display.

Raisi demanded that the “bombing of Gaza should be stopped as soon as possible” and declared that “the death of the Zionist regime has come”, in his speech to thousands at Azadi Square in western Tehran. He asked about the Zionist entity: “How can a regime that has violated 400 statements and resolutions of international organizations adhere to UN covenants? “We believe that one of the important steps that should be taken is the expulsion of the Zionist regime from the United Nations.”

Drones, missiles on display

Crowds in Azadi Square held up portraits of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and popular general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US strike in January 2020.

Iran has been under crippling US sanctions since Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from a landmark deal which granted it sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program. The United States has accused Tehran of “actively facilitating” attacks on US forces in the Middle East and of backing attacks on Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, charges Iran has denied. Around Azadi Square, Iranian-made Qiam ballistic missiles, Shahed 136 drones and Simorgh satellite launchers were on display. Western countries have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia during the Ukraine war, which Tehran denies, and missiles to armed groups in the Middle East.

The celebrations come ahead of March 1 legislative elections, the first national vote since a large-scale protest movement shook Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022. Amini, 22, died after being arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women. — AFP

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