Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the streets outside the former US embassy in Tehran in the biggest anti-US rally in years, a show of support for hard-line opponents of President Hassan Rouhani’s outreach to Washington.
Crowds of Iranians shouted “death to America” as they marked the 34th anniversary of the takeover of the city’s US embassy, which led to 52 Americans being held hostage for months.
Protesters waved anti-US banners, chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel”, while burning US and Israeli flags. Effigies of the US president, Barack Obama, his secretary of state John Kerry and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, could be seen held aloft by protesters.
The protests were reported to be the biggest in years, with tens of thousands in attendance, and despite attempts by the US and Iran to thaw diplomatic relations after years of hostility.
Al Jazeera’s Soraya Lennie, reporting from Tehran, said that the the opinion that the US was the “Great Satan” was hard to shift in some.
“A poll recently in Iran showed that most Iranians do favour renewed relations with the United States and a normalisation of ties, she said.
“But for the people here, and this small minority in Iran, their minds will not be changed. They still see the United States as the “Great Satan” and it appears as not much happening, diplomatically-speaking, that can change their minds.”
Similar gatherings were reported in other cities across the Islamic republic, according to footage broadcast on state television, in what appeared to be some of the largest November 4 rallies in years.
The storming of the embassy on November 4, 1979 led to 52 Americans being held for 444 days, and to the severance of diplomatic ties with Washington and decades of hostility.
However, both states are attempting to renew their diplomatic efforts after the election of Rouhani, seen by many in the US as a moderate successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On September 27, the US president, Barack Obama, spoke to Rouhani by telephone in the first direct talks between a US and Iranian leader since 1979.