Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Iranians mark Islamic revolution

Iranian soldiers sing during a ceremony in Tehran. Photo: 31 January 2009
Celebrations were held at Ayotollah Khomeini's tomb in Tehran

Iran has begun 10 days of celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the US-backed former ruler, the Shah.

Speaking in the capital, Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the revolution was "lively and alive".

Most Iranians are still proud of the independence from foreign domination they won in 1979, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran says.

But he says many in Iran would like more democracy and personal freedoms.

'Mundane issues'

"We are still at the beginning of the path and greater changes are ahead," President Ahmadinejad was quoted by AFP news agency as saying, at a ceremony at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini - the father of the revolution.

An Iranian man holds an anti-US sign in Tehran. Photo: 31 January 2009
The anniversary is traditionally marked with declarations against the West

"Although the Islamic revolution happened in Iran it is not limited to Iranian borders," the president was quoted as saying.

Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in Paris on 1 February 1979. It took only 10 days before the Shah's regime collapsed.

Despite the almost ritualistic chants of "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!", on Saturday there was no longer the fervour of those early days of the revolution, our correspondent says.

Nowadays, Iranian governments get judged on much more mundane issues like the state of the economy or the ever worsening Tehran traffic, he says.

He adds that Iranians are also receptive to US President Barack Obama's invitation to heal relations with Washington.

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