Iran Celebrates 1979 U.S. Embassy Takeover amid Anti-government Protests

On Friday Iran held state-sponsored yearly rallies marking the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, as the administrative establishment that has ruled since then battles nationwide protests calling for its downfall.

Radical students established Iran’s Islamic Revolution by storming the embassy soon after the fall of the U.S.-backed Shah, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two nations have been enemies ever since and, as Iranian authorities on Friday urged security forces to quickly get rid of the anti-government protests, which have spread to all layers of society, new bilateral tensions surfaced.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi criticized Joe Biden, a day after the U.S. president vowed to free Iran. Pictures broadcast on state television showed anti-American demonstrations attended by tens of thousands of people across the nation on the “National Day of Fighting Global Arrogance”, while songs called for “Death to America” and schoolchildren conveyed banners in support of the seizure of the embassy.

Friday’s pro-establishment demonstrations offered a conspicuous contrast to the wave of protests sweeping the country since a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, died in morality police custody on Sept. 16 after being arrested for being improperly dressed.

On Friday, the widely-followed 1500 Tasvir activist Twitter account reported protests in the cities of Zahedan, Khash, and Saravan in Sistan-Baluchistan, an area close to the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan that has been a hotbed of distress.

The semi-official news agency Tasnim said an unspecified number of people were harmed in clashes in which protesters attacked a government building in Khash and burnt several vehicles and security forces opened fire. The protests present one of the greatest challenges to the authority of the leadership enshrined by the revolution, with numerous young Iranians overcoming the fear that has stifled dissent ever since.

Iran, which had been pursuing for over a year to strike a nuclear deal with world powers and get relief from sanctions that have increased hardships for many Iranians, has accused the United States and other foreign enemies of the turmoil, saying they want to destabilize the country. Biden said on Thursday that the demonstrators would soon succeed in freeing themselves.

“Don’t worry, we’re gonna free Iran. They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon,” Biden said during a campaign speech in California. He did not expand on his comments. Raisi portrayed the protesters as deceived traitors, adding: “I am telling Biden that Iran was freed 43 years ago.”

Raisi’s deputy, Mohammad Hosseini, called on security forces to work swiftly to end the riots”. Women, who have been burning their veils, and university students are playing a prominent role in the demonstrations, which call for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but they have drawn support from a broad cross-section of society.

The activist HRANA news agency said on Friday that 300 protesters had been killed in the turmoil as of Thursday including 47 minors, as well as 37 members of the security forces.

More than 14,000 people have been captured in demonstrations in 134 cities and towns, and 132 universities, it said.

By Archana

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