Many Iranians say revolutionary ideals still unmet
In Tehran Monday, tens of thousands celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
To honor the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, the Bayuni family spent days preparing for the annual anti-American effigy contest. First prize: a gold coin stamped with an image of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.Skip to next paragraph
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So as tens of thousands of Iranians rallied in central Tehran on Monday, the family added entries to the competition: one showed Iran choking America and Israel; another showed the United States capturing all the globe except Iran, which was protected by barbed wire.
Many effigies – and countless homemade US and Israeli flags – went up in flames, but not theirs: "We are keeping them," says wife Sara, "to see what the US will do with the world."
Heated anti-US rhetoric has been a constant in Iranian political theater for a generation. But despite the fanfare Monday, this widespread show of nationalist support is mixed with disappointment that the revolution has not lived up to its original promises of freedom, justice, and prosperity.
"I work very hard all year just to earn enough for the next rent rise, and still I do not have a weekend free to be with my wife," says Reza, a government employee who says he is religious. "I don't have peace of mind. With all our natural resources, I have nothing. I feel disappointed."
He says one perennial problem is mismanagement, taken to new levels by the conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose ministerial picks have often been rejected by parliament due to lack of experience. "They choose you for a job based only on your loyalty to the revolution," says Reza. "Not because of your expertise."
In his speech Monday to honor the revolution, Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke defiantly, proclaiming that Iran would not back down "one iota" from its nuclear program and would launch two rockets and a space satellite in coming months. But he ended by saying that he was trying to cope with searing social and economic problems of high unemployment and soaring prices – campaign promises for "justice" he first made in 2005.
On the streets during the anniversary celebration, a kaleidoscope of color with balloons and banners created a festive air to mark what is officially called the "Glorious Victory of the Islamic Revolution" 29 years ago. Back then, the return from exile of Ayatollah Khomeini led to the overthrow of the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; this day in 1979 marked when the Shah's military stopped fighting.
A broad sampling of voices found that people from across Iran's divided social spectrum had come to "revitalize the ideas of the revolution," to support Iran's current supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, or because they saw it as a national or religious duty.