By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Marching with proud and resilient Iranians

February 13, 2019

TEHRAN _ Monday morning I had the honor and privilege of joining millions of brave and resilient Iranians as they marched through the streets of Tehran to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Exactly forty years ago, the people of Iran overthrew an arrogant regime backed by the U.S. and embraced a new form of governance and a new way of life. It was the culmination of a long and no-holds-barred struggle against the Pahlavi regime’s westernization project and social injustice.

The revolution transformed Iran from an absolute monarchy under Raza Shah Pahlavi to an Islamic republic under Imam Khomeini. Indeed a giant leap.

I have always admired Iranians for their indomitable spirit, unwavering resilience and tremendous patriotic fervor. On Monday, I witnessed the awe-inspiring spectacle on the streets of Tehran.

Iran is indeed a proud nation. The people of Iran take immense pride in their rich civilization and long history. They are the inheritors of a great legacy that has survived more than the lifespan of many Western powers. It is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the way they wear this pride and patriotism on their sleeve.

Notwithstanding four decades of crippling sanctions and blatant saber-rattling, the great people of this country have refused to retreat or surrender. They have stood their ground, as a proud nation.

On Monday, 22 Bahman, braving heavy downpour and intense chill, people took to streets in Tehran and other major cities across the country to send a clear and strong message to enemies: no power on earth can crush our voice, our resolve, our hope, our pride, our integrity.

I was fortunate to witness the spectacular scenes on the streets of Tehran, from Enqelab Square to Maidan Azaadi, symbolic names associated with the 1979 ‘revolution’ and subsequent ‘freedom’ from Pahlavi dictatorship.

I saw people from all walks of life – men and women, young and old, rural and urban – deeply immersed in the spirit of revolution as envisioned by Imam Khomeini – the guiding force of this proud nation.

They rallied to keep the legacy of their beloved leader alive – the legacy of single-minded resistance against the arrogant powers of the world who have been for the past 40 years unsuccessfully trying to bring ‘regime change’ in Iran.

Much to their chagrin, Iran has not only survived all these years but it has made rapid advancements in various fields. The sanctions and saber-rattling have proved a blessing in disguise and hawks in Washington or London or Tel Aviv know it well. That’s precisely why Barack Obama was forced to sign the nuclear agreement with Iran, which his megalomaniac successor later tore apart.

On Monday, people poured into the streets to make a statement. The statement was addressed to those who seek annihilation of this proud nation: Iran will outlive its enemies and the legacy of the Islamic revolution will shine as long as the world exists.

The tricolored flag of Iran was fluttering high in the crowd of people. Demonstrators carried posters and placards with pictures of Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamenei, reaffirming their solemn pledge to the sacrosanct ideals of the Islamic revolution.

Everyone was there, from a five-year old boy holding his country’s flag to a physically challenged man making his way through the crowd to an elderly person proudly chanting revolutionary slogans to a mother carrying her tender child to the members of the country’s armed forces beaming with joy.

Some just walked in the pouring rain, some distributed food stuff, some circulated posters and pamphlets, some performed songs and skits related to the revolution, some cleaned the streets, some gave away flowers. It was an exhibition of the Iranian pride that we have all known for centuries.

The vociferous slogans of ‘Allah o Akbar’ (God is Great) and ‘Khamenei Rehbar’ (Khamenei the leader) reverberated all around, and gave me goose bumps. The slogans were strikingly familiar. People looked familiar too. The revolution, after all, is our collective achievement. It is not an Iranian revolution, but an Islamic revolution. Imam Khamenei is the leader of all the campaigners of truth and justice.

As people marched towards the Azadi Square, loudspeakers across the city beamed the address of President Hassan Rouhani. He spoke of how Iran survived forty years of undeclared war and sanctions and how it overcame insurmountable odds to reach this stage. His words were poignant and powerful.

Of course, not everything is hunky-dory in this country. There are economic issues due to myriad factors, which include U.S. sanctions. There is discontent too because of inflation and currency depreciation. It is the job of authorities to resolve the issues and they are not sitting idle. The work is in progress.

But, Iran is definitely not ‘falling’ and the ‘regime’ will not ‘change’ through foreign intervention. Iran is not Venezuela or Afghanistan where the so-called ‘superpowers’ will dictate terms and plant their blue-eyed boys. Here, Iranians decide what is good for them. And they made it amply clear on Monday.

Clearly, the perfidious plots of trouble-mongers have failed. Their forty year war against Iran has proved futile. It’s time the Western powers acknowledge the reality of the Islamic revolution and respect the choice of Iranians. It is not 1953 anymore. The period of coups is over.

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