Iran marks Jerusalem Day after 2-year pandemic suspension

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Thousands of Iranians marched in rallies in the capital Tehran on Friday to mark Jerusalem Day, which Iran says is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians. It was the first time such marches were held since before the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran has been marking the day, the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution led by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It is also known as Quds Day, after the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Demonstrators chanted the “death to Israel,” and “death to America,” slogans that have also become tradition in mass rallies in Iran since its revolution.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports Hamas and Hezbollah, militant groups that oppose it. Israel views Iran as its archenemy in the Middle East.

The rallies all headed to Tehran University, where the ceremony ended at Friday’s noon prayers. Similar rallies took place in other Iranian cities and towns.

Many high-ranking Iranian officials attended the rally in Tehran, including President Ebrahim Raisi and the commander of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Mohammad Salami.