Tens of thousands of Iranians chanting anti-U.S. slogans took to streets of Tehran on Tuesday for a mass rally marking 30 years since the Islamic revolution toppled the U.S.-backed shah.
Men and women with children in tow walked towards Azadi (Freedom) Square to join members of the Basij Islamist militia for the annual demonstration at a time of continuing tense relations between Tehran and Washington.
Demonstrators carried placards saying "30 years of freedom, 30 years of pride", "Death to America", "Death to Israel" and balloons in the colors of the Iranian flag.
Each year, Iran commemorates the uprising and victory of the revolution on Feb. 11, 1979 when the army declared its neutrality.
The rally was addressed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although the presence of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was yet to be confirmed.
"Like every year, the Iranian nation will turn out in force and this will make the enemy understand he has failed," Khamenei said on Saturday.
Marking return of Khomeini
For the past 10 days Tehran has been festooned with flags to mark the return from exile in France on Feb. 1, 1979 of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, sparking the revolution.
The liberal, nationalist and secular wings of the revolutionary movement splintered and faded, opposed by the religious faction. The Marxists of the People's Mujahedeen switched to armed opposition and were decimated.
The Islamic Republic was proclaimed on April 1, 1979, and its constitution was adopted in a referendum on Dec. 12 the same year.
"Thirty years later, the revolution is still alive and lively," Ahmadinejad said on Jan. 31, and reiterated the state's continued loyalty to the ideals of social justice and independence.
"Although this revolution took place in Iran, it is not restricted to the borders of Iran," he said. Iran vocally encourages support for the Lebanese militant Shiite movement Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
Ready for dialogue
The Iranian president said on Tuesday Iran would welcome a fundamental change in approach from the U.S. and was ready for dialogue provided talks were based on mutual respect.
"The new U.S. administration has announced that they want to produce change and pursue the course of dialogue. It is quite clear that real change must be fundamental and not tactical. It is clear the Iranian nation welcomes real changes," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally.
"My expectation is, in the coming months, we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table face-to-face with diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in the new direction," Obama said on Monday.
Ties between the United States and Iran were severed in the wake of the revolution when Islamist students held diplomats hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
Ahmadinejad is also expected to trumpet the nation's self-reliance in science and technology, citing the February 2 launch of its first home-built satellite which unnerved Western powers concerned about the weapons potential of the technology.
Replicas of the Omid (Hope) satellite and the Safir-2 rocket that carried it into space were displayed on Tuesday, with a banner hailing Iran's "advancement in science and technology."
The Islamic republic of today looks upon itself as the leading light of anti-imperialism, opposing an unfair world order which it says the major powers impose through the U.N. Security Council.
Iran says the alleged bias of major powers is the key reason for it continuing its program of uranium enrichment, which it insists is purely civilian.
Iran has made self-sufficiency its economic doctrine in the face of U.S.-led sanctions in force since Washington broke off diplomatic relations after the hostage crisis.