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Iran commemorates its 1979 revolution

Ramin Mostaghim and Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

TEHRAN, Iran -- Thousands of people took to the streets of Iran's capital on Monday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which ousted a secular, pro-American monarchy and replaced it with an anti-Western theocracy.

Despite rainy weather, people of all ages swarmed Tehran's Azadi Square -- and as in previous years, this year's demonstration took on a festival-like atmosphere.

Children were entertained with music, and some people carried effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump while others chanted "Death to America," "Death to Saudi Arabia" and burned U.S. and Israeli flags.

Although all those are common tropes in the annual commemorations, in many ways this year's rally was filled with more energy and was larger than in previous years.

The 40th anniversary comes at a time when tensions between Iran and the Trump administration have escalated.

In 2018, Washington reimposed tough economic sanctions on Iran that make it more difficult for other countries to do business with Tehran and called on the international community to force the Islamic Republic to concede to a dozen political and military demands.

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Mohammad Zarei, a 42-year-old civil servant, carried an effigy of Trump accompanied by a sign that read: "I am Trump and I do not honor my commitments" -- a reference to Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Zarei said he joined Monday's protest to demonstrate how Iranians have survived despite sanctions imposed by the U.S.

"We are self-reliant," he said. "We have survived all these years."

Trump hit back against Iranian attacks with a tweet alleging that the Islamic Revolution had brought "40 years of failure."

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