February 11 — 22 Bahman in Iran — marks the 10 days between the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to the country after 15 years in exile and the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Every year for the occasion, government-organized gatherings across the country rally conservatively inclined Iranians and a handful of unique characters who attend for the spectacle or to be the spectacle themselves. The rallies are an important opportunity for Iran's leadership to demonstrate the popularity of the Islamic Republic to both domestic and foreign critics. With Iran recently having been rocked by its largest protests in nearly a decade, officials of all stripes are calling for an impressive turnout.
During a Cabinet meeting Feb. 7, President Hassan Rouhani said, “At this rally, in creating a new epic, the will, solidarity, unity and commitment to national sovereignty must be shown, and to those who wish ill on Islamic Iran across the world, we must say that the path of Imam Khomeini still continues.” He added, “[I am] happy that after the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and on the threshold of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that the people of Islamic Iran are continuing on the path of the goals of the revolution with more strength and enthusiasm.” He asserted that a large turnout would “for months disappoint the enemies” of Iran.