Iranians urged to turn out in millions for revolution
TEHRAN, Feb 10 (AFP) - The Islamic regime is calling on Iranians to
turn out in their millions Thursday in a bid to demonstrate its continuing
power to mobilise exactly 20 years after the overthrow of the last imperial
"Every year the revolution's enemies look carefully to see whether
people will participate," warned Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
"Let people show them their continued support and backing for
the revolution with their overwhelming presence," he said.
State institutions, political groups and media all urged people to
turn out in huge numbers at the demonstrations planned in all of Iran's
Six large processions have been planned in the capital, converging
on a vast square west of the capital where the shah built a triumphal arch
to celebrate Iran's modernising monarchy.
Renamed Freedom Square by the Islamic authorities immediately after
the revolution, each year it is the venue for the country's largest anniversary
demonstration attended by hundreds of thousands of Iranians.
But this year for the 20th anniversary, the authorities are calling
for an even bigger turnout than usual.
The regime's most popular figure, moderate President Mohammad Khatami,
will attend the demonstration, along with members of his reformist government.
The government has worked hard to give this year's celebrations a genuinely
popular flavour, with the capital's main thoroughfares decked out with
flowers, banners and coloured lights.
In recent days state radio has broadcast a selection of old revolutionary
songs, designed to remind Iranians of the heady days of the 1979 revolution,
as well as cheerful tunes befitting what is meant to be a nationwide jamboree.
The conservative judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi said he would
free an unspecified number of common-law prisoners to mark the anniversary
of the revolution.
Newspapers are full of notices from private and state-owned companies
congratulating the government and people on the anniversary, which state
radio compared to the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Moslem
fasting month of Ramadan.
People have been urged to climb onto their balconies on Wednesday night
to shout "Allah-u-Akbar" (God is Greatest), as they did 20 years
ago in defiance of curfews imposed by the imperial government.
But the authorities have been forced to acknowledge the mounting problems
faced by ordinary people as a collapse in the value of Iran's main export
oil has led to a worsening economic crisis here.
"Among the major problems facing the country today are unemployment,
inflation, financial corruption, nepotism, favouritism and, above all,
the lack of expert plans for developing the country's enormous potential,"
the English-language Tehran Times admitted frankly on the anniversary's
But the paper urged Iranians to forget their problems for one day to
show their continued support for the 20-year-old revolution.
"Despite all these (problems), the faithful Iranian people still
adhere wholeheartedly to the ideals and principles of the Islamic Revolution,"
the paper said.