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Iran Rallies Mark Revolution, Show Solidarity With Egypt's Protesters

February 11, 2011

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says the Islamic Revolution that toppled the country's U.S.-backed monarch three decades ago has now spread to other Islamic countries,

Ahmadinejad was speaking to crowds gathered in Tehran today to mark the 32nd anniversary of the revolution.

In a reference to recent antigovernment protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab countries, Ahmadinejad said, "Our revolution was not an ordinary political or national move, but as we see today, after 32 years, it led a global awakening and a new movement in the Middle East and North Africa."

During his speech to a crowd gathered in Tehran's Azadi Square, Ahmadinejad also called on Egyptians and other Arab people to defend their rights to be free.

"You have the right to be free. You have the right to national sovereignty. You have the right to express your views and will freely on national and international affairs," he said. "You have the right to choose what kind of government you want and who should rule you."

Revolution Continuation

Iranian authorities and the country's state-run media say the current developments in Egypt are similar to those before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and that what is happening in Cairo is a continuation of Iran's revolution.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for the establishment of an Islamic regime in Egypt, where thousands of antigovernment demonstrators for more than two weeks have been calling on longtime President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Iranian state television said the anniversary rallies this year show solidarity with the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Hundreds of thousands marched today in Tehran towards Azadi Square, chanting slogans denouncing the United States and Israel. Some also carried placards in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian protests.

The government-organized rallies in Tehran were broadcast live by state-run television. According to Iran's English-language Press TV, similar demonstrations "were held in 850 Iranian cities, as well as some 400 small towns and villages."

Authorities, however, denied permission for a rally in solidarity with the Egyptian people planned by the opposition on February 14.

House Arrest

Mehdi Karrubi, a prominent opposition politician, was reportedly put under house arrest on February 10. Several other opposition figures were reportedly arrested.

The European Union has boycotted events marking the anniversary in protest at the execution of an Iranian-Dutch woman hanged by Tehran on drug smuggling charges last month. Zahra Bahrami was initially arrested during public protests over Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection in 2009 but was eventually charged with drug smuggling.

Iran marks the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution every year. The 10-day celebrations begin on February 1, the anniversary of the return to Iran of the late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and culminate on February 11, the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Though today's rallies in Iran were meant to show solidarity with Egyptian protesters, the BBC said today that Iran was jamming its Persian-language television channel following the broadcaster's extensive coverage of events in Egypt.

written by Farangis Najibullah, with contributions from Radio Farda and agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/iran_holds_ rallies_to_mark_revolution_anniversary/2305768.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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