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Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 18:40 GMT


' We will stand up to the West'

A heart shaped tribute to the Ayatollah Khomeini

Iran's former President Hashemi Rafsanjani marked the 20th anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's return from exile by warning the public of American ''hatred and arrogance''.

He told the crowds that Iran's military might had prevented the US and Britain from attacking the country in the same way as it had targeted Iraq.

"My dear ones, children of the Imam [Khomeini], you can see the vindictiveness and hatred of America and arrogance towards your own selves,'' he said in an address broadcast live on Iranian TV from Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum.


[ image: A rapturous welcome]
A rapturous welcome
''From their radios, from their words, their insults, their deeds, you can see this. If we did not have this military and defensive strength, we would be a delicious morsel for America.

"When America, using satellites, sees that, at our international exhibition the Shahab-3 missile with a range of 1,350 km is on display, it grieves but they can do nothing about it," Mr Rafsanjani said.

Iran's military strength enables it to "say no to America," he added, as the crowds chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America".

Mr Rafsanjani, who now heads a powerful advisory body, said the Islamic revolution "drove out the disordered corrupt and brought the popular masses onto the scene" .

With the Ayatollah's return "those who were the true owners took charge" of the country, he said.

The Ayatollah's grandson Hasan told the crowds there was "possibly no-one on this earth greater than the founder of the Islamic Republic" .

Patriotic songs

Iranian TV marked the 20th anniversary by broadcasting patriotic songs and archive footage of the Ayatollah Khomeini's rapturous reception in Tehran in 1979.


[ image: Mr Rafsanjani: Our military might has saved us from US attacks]
Mr Rafsanjani: Our military might has saved us from US attacks
The Ayatollah was seen slowly descending the steps from the Air France plane with his son Ahmad behind. The footage showed people laying flowers along the route into Tehran.

The broadcast also displayed the front page of a newspaper announcing martial law had been declared in Tehran and 11 other cities.

It continued with a patriotic revolutionary song, "Khomeini e-Imam" [Khomeini O Imam], followed by his first speech on his return.

Clinton slight

An image of Ayatollah Khomeini in a heart-shaped frame was superimposed on an Iranian flag. The TV then showed shots of the Iranian countryside - clouds, rivers and birds - and the Ayatollah's mausoleum lit up at night.

The presenter said Khomeini's return brought fresh hope to the nation and "a tree grew out of each martyr" for the revolution.

It also briefly showed a newspaper photo of President Bill Clinton with the headline "I have sinned," in what could be construed as a comment on western "decadence" .

'How much will it cost?'

But the tone of one Iranian newspaper, Iran Daily, was less exalted. It questioned the cost of the 11 days of celebrations which began on Monday.

"Who will pay the large bill covering the heavy expenses of these events?" an editorial said.

It noted the official Organisation of Islamic Culture and Communication had arranged foreign visits for 200 Iranian artists to mark the occasion.

"Let's sit down and calculate the money needed to help the wheel of these projects turn ... Let's think of the 40-million-strong population of the younger Iranian generation which is still unemployed, unable to marry for financial reasons and homeless," the editorial added.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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