Iranian throngs celebrate anniversary of revolution

February 12, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TEHRAN, Iran -- Hundreds of thousands of Iranian civilians, accompanied by military battalions, converged on Freedom Square in Tehran yesterday in a government-sponsored rally marking the day the military capitulated to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, bringing about the fall of the shah 14 years ago.

President Hashemi Rafsanjani said in a speech that the West must reassess its attitude toward Iran, and marchers labeled the United States "the mother of all corruption" and vowed to fight against "U.S. conspiracies."

Huge crowds, including many schoolchildren wearing battle gear with red bandannas, waved framed photographs of senior Iranian clerics as the voice of Mr. Rafsanjani, broadcast from towering loudspeakers, declared that the Iranian "people are quite happy and love their revolution from the bottom of their hearts."

"When Ayatollah Khomeini came back from forced exile, nobody thought that 14 years later the same massive crowds would come out onto the streets," Mr. Rafsanjani said in a 20-minute speech.

"Western analysts must reassess their attitude about Iran. Don't label us fundamentalist or terrorist. Don't imagine that the brilliant rays of the revolution can be covered by dark clouds of prejudice. Despite all the international pressures, eight years of war [with Iraq], destruction and a trade embargo, the people have weathered the storms, and this is the true meaning of independence."

Mr. Rafsanjani said Iran is a free country and that "no one was brought to the rally by force."

The 14th anniversary of the revolution, known as the Ten Days of Dawn, was marked in Tehran with a celebrated annual film festival, art exhibitions, evening street fairs and fireworks.

The Feb. 11 rally is considered the high point of the anniversary.

"Our struggle against the West is not a war," said Hamid Shariatpour, a 22-year-old Tehran cleric. "It's a cultural struggle in which we must replace the negative with something positive and worthwhile."

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