Thousands of Iranians commemorated the takeover of the American embassy in 1979 by marching through the streets of Tehran shouting “Death to America” and “Death to the House of Saud,” Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.
Speaking to the crowd outside the former American embassy, Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), boasted that the United States was in decline. “America is no longer number one and the first power of the world,” he said. “America’s political will can no longer manage political and military development in…the world of Islam. America’s political power has strongly declined.”
Salami reiterated that Iran’s enmity towards the United States would not diminish with time. “Our fight with the Americans will continue,” he said, adding that “pursuing our ideals in the world of Islam and in Iran, we will recognize no stopping point or red line.”
He also told the United States not to criticize Iran’s ballistic missile program, calling the program “the real center of our power [that] must be strengthened.”
On November 3, 1979, students supporting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini stormed the embassy, holding staffers there hostage for 444 days.
One of the hostage takers, Hossein Sheikholeslam, now an advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, told The Tehran Times on Wednesday that “under international law, Iran had the right to do what it thought was right.”
According to international law, a nation’s embassy is regarded as “inviolable,” with article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations declaring that “the receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of mission or impairment of its dignity.”
According to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News, the official name of the day’s commemoration, which included country-wide demonstrations, was the “National Day of Fight against Global Arrogance.” Iranian leaders commonly use “Global Arrogance” to refer to the United States.
“By recognizing the nature of the [global] arrogance and witnessing the endless crimes of the Great Satan[,] … the vigilant nation of Iran still regards the U.S. as the number one enemy of humanity,” protesters told Tasnim in a statement. They also warned against any attempt to “extend the hand of friendship” to the United States, which would constitute “a betrayal of Islam, the noble ideals of the Islamic Revolution, the Iranian nation, and the blood of martyrs.”
“America is still regarded as ‘The Great Satan’ for the people of Iran, and we will still crush America under our feet,” one protester told Agence France-Presse.
“Today, after over 30 years, you can still see passion and excitement in the hearts of the people of Iran after all these sanctions, all the pressures and the lack of commitment,” another man added. “We come to prove that we are still here. The nation of Iran stands together in order to prove that America cannot do a damn thing.”
Officially sanctioned demonstrations denouncing the United States are not uncommon in Iran. To celebrate the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in February, crowds in Tehran chanted “Death to America.” “I am happy that I was able to come here today, and as an Iranian I can put my fist in America’s mouth and say Death to America,” one demonstrator told NBC.
In March 2015, shortly before the framework for the nuclear deal with the U.S. and other global powers was announced, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffed President Barack Obama’s conciliatory Nowruz holiday message to the people of Iran, telling a crowd, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.” Protests marked by chants of “Death to America” were widespread shortly before Iran agreed to the final draft of the deal four months later.
The White House stated at the time that they were unconcerned about the Ayatollah’s call for “Death to America,” saying that such statements were intended for a domestic political audience.
[Photo: Fars News ]