TEHRAN, (AFP) – Thousands of young Iranians rallied outside the former US embassy in Tehran on Monday to mark the 29th anniversary of the seizure of the building by Islamic revolutionaries.
The demonstrators, mainly schoolchildren and students, brandished banners proclaiming “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and carried effigies of Uncle Sam, who symbolises the United States, which were to be torched later.
“We will not get on with America even for a moment,” read one placard carried by demonstrators standing in the rain outside what is dubbed the “Den of Spies” in central Tehran.
Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic relations for nearly three decades since students took US diplomats at the mission hostage for 444 days following the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.
Monday’s demonstration came ahead of the US presidential vote between Republican John McCain and Democrat front-runner Barack Obama, who many Iranians think might aid a thaw between the archfoes.
“Obama is good, because he is concerned about his people and he is not into war,” said Amir, a 16-year-old high school student at the rally.
However, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that hatred of Washington was deep-seated and praised the Islamist students who took over “the centre of espionage.”
“Besides, they (the United States) have not apologised yet and rather keep on with their arrogant attitude,” Khamenei said.
Tensions have mounted over Iran’s nuclear programme which many Western countries believe is a cover for ambitions to build atomic weapons although this is vehemently denied by Tehran.
How to deal with Iran has been one of the foreign policy issues in the November 4 race. The United States has so far pushed for tougher sanctions and has never ruled out a military option to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.