Iranians Get Behind Wheel To Mark 43rd Anniversary Of Islamic Revolution

Men on motorcycles attend the annual rally commemorating the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution at the Azadi (freedom) square in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 11

Tehran- Tens of thousands of Iranians drove through Tehran and other major cities on Friday to mark the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, staying in vehicles rather than marching on foot amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Due to the pandemic, state television said this year, as the previous year, there should be "no gathering or marching" by those celebrating the 1979 overthrow of the US backed monarchy.

Instead, people travelled on motorbikes and cars driving through the streets in the Iranian capital toward the iconic Azadi (Freedom) Square, despite chilly temperatures.

Some had painted their cars in the red, white and green colors of the Iranian flag, while others chanted slogans of "Death to America" and "We will resist until the end" from windows as they drove by.

A number of US flags were also burnt by people chanting "We will not surrender" at Azadi Square, an AFP photographer said.

State television broadcast footage of similar rallies in other major cities, including Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz and Shiraz.

Demonstrators bore portraits of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as the Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, and revered general Qassim Soleimani, assassinated by a US airstrike at Baghdad airport in January 2020.

This year's anniversary is the first since conservative President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August last year.

The anniversary also comes as negotiations to revive Iran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers continue in Vienna. Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, and in response, Iran gradually reneged on its commitments.

President Raisi said that his country "never has hope" in the nuclear negotiations with world powers to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

"We put our hopes in the east, west, north, south of our country and never have hope in Vienna and New York," Raisi said in a televised speech as Iran marked the 43rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On the eve of the 43rd anniversary, fireworks displays were performed in Tehran and other cities at 9:00 p.m. overnight, as people chanted Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest) in an expression of support for the Islamic Revolution.

More than 6,300 Iranian and some 200 foreign journalists, photographers, and cameramen covered the Friday ceremonies, Press TV reported.

In Tehran, revolutionary songs played as marchers waved their national flags.

Professional parachutists put on a live performance over the Azadi Square, depicting the Iranian flag in the capital's sky.

President Ebrahim Raeisi addressed the event during Friday Prayers in the Grand Mosalla mosque of Tehran.

Marking the event, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Iranian nation has made many sacrifices to safeguard its independence.

"Our nation has made many sacrifices to safeguard those values & principles. Our resolve to stand & strive for Iran's rights & interests remains unwavering," a foreign office spokesman said.

The rallies this year are of significant importance due to the defeat of Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign in the face of the Iranian nation's steadfastness and the US administration's declaration that it seeks a less confrontational policy toward the Islamic Republic due to the "failed" policy.

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