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Iranians get behind wheel to mark Islamic revolution

TEHRAN (AFP) – Thousands of Iranians drove through Tehran yesterday to mark the 43rd anniversary of the country’s Islamic Revolution, staying in vehicles rather than marching on foot amid COVID 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 shah’s regime.

Instead, people travelled by car, motorcycle and bicycle, to converge on the capital’s iconic Azadi Square, despite chilly temperatures.

Some had painted their cars in the red, white and green colours of the Iranian flag, while others chanted slogans from windows as they drove by.

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

Iranians participating in a ceremony marking the 1979 Islamic Revolution anniversary at the Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran. PHOTO: AFP

Demonstrators bore portraits of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, and revered general Qasem Soleimani, killed by a United States (US) air strike at Baghdad airport in January 2020.

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

The celebrations mark the day that cleric Khomeini returned from exile and ousted the last government of the US-backed shah.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had already fled Iran after months of protests against his rule.

The coronavirus has infected over 6.7 million people in Iran and killed more than 133,000, according to official figures.

Iran, which has a population of around 85 million, is the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic. Nearly 55 million people have so far received two doses of anti-Covid vaccines.


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