Iran celebrates Jerusalem Day after 2 years of pandemic suspension

Iran celebrates Jerusalem Day after 2 years of pandemic suspension

TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) – Thousands of Iranians marched in Tehran’s capital on Friday to mark “Quds Day,” or Jerusalem Day, a traditional show of support for Palestinians. This was the first time such marches were held before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran is marking the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan since the start of the 1979 Islamic Revolution under the leadership of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The name Quds Day comes after the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Protesters chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” ​​– slogans that have become tradition at mass rallies in Iran since its revolution – and set American, British and Israeli flags on fire.

Iranian state TV later showed a variety of ballistic missiles on display at the rally, describing them as “Israel hitters”.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, terrorist groups that oppose it. Israel considers Iran its arch enemy in the Middle East.

All the rallies headed towards Tehran University, where the celebrations concluded after Friday afternoon prayers. Similar rallies took place in other Iranian cities and towns.

State news agency IRNA quoted a general of the expeditionary force of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, known as the Quds force, as saying that Iran supports all groups prepared to fight Israel.

“We support any front that is formed against this criminal regime, and we will support any community prepared to fight this criminal regime,” General Ismail Ghani said in a speech in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The rally in Tehran was attended by several high-ranking Iranian officials, including staunch President Ibrahim Raisi and the powerful Guards commander General Mohamed Salami.

Salami warned Israel that it would face a “painful backlash” if it took any aggressive action against Iran. “If there is even the slightest bit of evil being done by you, you know better than me what will happen to you,” he said.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced unidentified Arab states in the Persian Gulf for normalizing relations with Israel, referring to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a live televised broadcast.

“We condemn the treacherous move to normalize relations”, he said, and reiterated Iran’s support for the Palestinian cause.

“We have always said this, we have always acted on it and we stand by it,” Khamenei said.