Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution Monday in typical fashion, with speeches from government officials, marches, anti-American slogans, protests and also an element of the absurd.
As is customary, President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech at Tehran’s Azadi Square for the anniversary, which took place on the 22nd day of the month of Bahman in the Iranian calendar. “The 22nd of Bahman has specific qualities of its own this year,” Rouhani said in a speech that was more defiant and focused on Iran’s independence and military achievements than in past years.
“Firstly, the Islamic Revolution was to protect Iran,” Rouhani said. He recounted how Iran had lost large portions of its territory in the last 200 years, giving specifics and the date of each region's losses under the Qajar and Pahlavi monarchies. The territories were lost due to internal weakness and the meddling of great powers. Rouhani added that 38 years ago, many of the world countries targeted Iran’s western borders through their support of the invasion of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that led to the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Contrasting Iran today to the monarchies of the last two centuries, Rouhani said that in the victory against Saddam through the effort of the people, the army, the Basij and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps under the leadership of late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, “Iran declared this is no longer an Iranian monarchy. Today’s mindset is an Islamic Iran and the youth of today will stand against the whole world according to their religious and national beliefs.”
Rouhani continued, “Today the whole world should know that the strength of the Islamic Republic is greater than the days of the war.” He added that if during that war only 5% of the country’s arms were domestically made, that figure is now 85%.
Under increasing criticism over its missile program, even from European partners, Rouhani struck a defiant tone, saying that Iran will not ask anyone for permission to develop its missiles. “We will continue the same path to military strength,” he said. “Our military strength in the last 40 years and especially in the last five years has been extraordinary before the whole world.”
On the occasion of the anniversary, the Office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that in the coming days it will publish a detailed statement about the “second step” of the revolution as the Islamic Republic enters its fifth decade. No other details were given but it could be related to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, the international group that monitors money laundering, and its February deadline for Iran to pass legislation to meet its guidelines. The legislation would facilitate Iranian banking transactions, which have become increasingly difficult since the US exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposed sanctions.
Other officials also spoke in different cities and to the press on the occasion. Defense Minister Amir Hatami said, “The passionate presence of the people and the marches was a tooth-breaking response to the liar Trump.” Meanwhile, military commander Abdulrahim Mousavi said that during the last 40 years, “not one day has been without struggle” against the “enemy” and as a result, Iran has had “14,600 victories during these 40 years.”
A children’s rally featuring the cartoon character Bugs Bunny onstage with an MC chanting “Down with America” was one of the more viral images to emerge from the anniversary observances. Some Iranians also used the occasion to protest unemployment, inflation and poverty.
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