Many Iranians say revolutionary ideals still unmet
In Tehran Monday, tens of thousands celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
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"Many people have sacrificed a lot for this revolution, so we have come to give it a rebirth," says high school student Mohammad Parvin, who came with several Western-looking boys from his class. Among the crewcuts favored by religious militiamen were spike-haired young men who are at times targeted by the morality police.Skip to next paragraph
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"We have come to defend our revolution, to show that we are always backing it," says Alireza Dadpour, a fellow student with an Iranian flag draped over his back. "A lot of blood was spilled. We want to honor that."
State television showed large turnouts in cities across Iran, with chants of "Death to America" and Israel overshadowing those in support of the Islamic system or current leadership. The official IRNA news agency, which has overstated turnouts in past demonstrations, said Ahmadinejad spoke to a "million-strong gathering." Perhaps hundreds of thousands across the country took to the streets.
Clad in black and carrying a portrait of the supreme leader, Akram Azari Khameneh says she never missed one anniversary rally in 29 years and supports "my country, my religion, and my leader." Her son was "martyred" during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s; she says that she helped out in Ahvaz, a city near the front that was regularly struck with Iraqi rockets. "People have become more aware, and they feel the US is more of an enemy."
Parliamentary elections next month will test the conservative grip on power, but she says the disqualification already of more than 2,000 reformist candidates is irrelevant.
"What matters to us is our leader. Whoever Khamenei accepts, we will accept," says Mrs. Khameneh. "You can see this with your own eyes; 90 percent of people believe this way. This march proves it." Those who believe otherwise "are also living in this country. I hope God will help them."
"There is no system that will have 100 percent people's backing [but] Iran is one of the only independent countries against the US," says Reza, the government worker. A large rally turnout "is going to scare our enemies and reassure our friends."
Another woman, also named Akram, sits with her family on grass near the monument to 2,500 years of Persian history. "We are the followers of Khomeini's path [but] we've had a lot of hardships since the revolution," she says.
While her daughter, Maryam, says the rally will "show our might to the enemy," she has her own concerns. "As a girl I have no future. I am a student but do not know about a job."
Politicians of all stripes – reformists and conservatives alike – have let them down, says the family. The reform-leaning former President Mohammad Khatami caused Iranians to lose their faith in Islam, they charge, which they see as a continuing problem.
"When Ahmadinejad was a candidate we had hopes, but neither he nor the revolution fulfilled expectations," says Akram. "Hope is with God. We have no hope in these guys anymore."