TEHRAN, Feb 10 – Thousands of Iranians chanting anti-US slogans will take to streets of the capital on Tuesday for a mass rally marking 30 years since the Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed shah.
Crowds will converge on Azadi (Freedom) Square to join members of the Basij Islamist paramilitary force for the annual demonstration at a time of continuing tense relations between Tehran and Washington.
The United States and other world powers suspect Iran’s controversial nuclear programme is aimed at making atomic weapons, but Tehran says it is civilian and peaceful.
Each year the February 10 anniversary commemorates the uprising and victory of the revolution, sealed on that date 30 years ago when the army declared its neutrality.
The rally will be addressed by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although the presence of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has yet to be confirmed.
On Saturday Khamenei said that "like every year, the Iranian nation will turn out in force and this will make the enemy understand he has failed."
For the past 10 days Tehran has been festooned with flags to mark the return from exile on February 1, 1979 of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic.
It was his arrival on an Air France flight from Paris that sparked the revolution.
Iranian television has been broadcasting archive footage of the revolution daily, although nothing is said about the subsequent internal unrest that created thousands of victims and lasted more than two years.
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 December 12 the same year.
"Thirty years later, the revolution is still alive and lively," Ahmadinejad said on January 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.
In his address on Tuesday Ahmadinejad is expected to trumpet the nation’s self-reliance in science and technology, citing the February 2 launch into orbit of its first home-built satellite, Omid (Hope).
Officials said a replica of the satellite and the Safir-2 rocket that carried it will be displayed on Tuesday, but there would be no military parade.
"The launch of the satellite makes me proud as an Iranian. I am also proud of the revolution. But there are shortcomings that need to solved, mainly unemployment," said Akbari, a Tehran resident who gave only his second name.
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 UN Security Council.
The alleged bias of major powers is the key reason given by Tehran for continuing its programme of uranium enrichment, which it insists is purely civilian.
Iran has made self-sufficiency its economic doctrine in the face of US-led sanctions in force since Washington broke off diplomatic relations when American diplomats were taken hostage in 1979.