Hundreds of thousands of Iranians turned an anniversary celebration of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution into a rally protesting President Donald Trump, shouting "death to America" and burning American flags in the streets of Iran.
According to Reuters, hundreds of police officers and military personnel joined the protesters marching down the streets of Tehran toward Azadi Square. Islamic state TV showed the protesters stomping on pictures of Trump and carrying banners that read: "Thanks Mr. Trump for showing the real face of America." Other protesters displayed pictures of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May with the words: "Death to the Devil Triangle" written on them.
Protests and public demonstrations are not uncommon in Iran, and are usually directly coordinated by the Iranian government and the Imams. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani encouraged Iranians to march on Friday to "show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic."
The protest was a response to the Trump administration's declaration Tuesday that the United States was "putting Iran on notice" after Iran's missile test on Jan. 29. The U.S. hit Iran back with fresh sanctions, saying the missile test violated UN Security Council resolution prohibiting missiles that could carry a nuclear device.
The protesters on Friday declared their allegiance to the Islamic clerical establishment. "America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader," one protester told state TV, referring to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has publicly denounced Trump.
Khamenei said on Tuesday after the U.S. imposed the sanctions, "We are grateful to this gentleman who has come, grateful because he made it easy for us and showed the U.S.’s real face."
President Rouhani told protesters at Azadi Square that Iran would make the U.S. regret its decision to threaten Iran. "Some inexperienced figures in the region and America are threatening Iran ... They should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran," he said. "Our nation is vigilant and will make those threatening Iran regret it ... They should learn to respect Iran and Iranians ... We will strongly confront any war-mongering policies."
Though most of the banners carried down the streets of Tehran were critical of Trump, some banners thanked Americans for their opposition to Trump's immigration executive order, which temporarily halted immigration from seven Muslim countries, including Iran and has been blocked by a federal judge who issued a restraining order against it. "Thanks to American people for supporting Muslims," the banners said.