Iran celebrates different revolution anniversary under COVID-19

For the first time in decades, the large square around Tehran’s iconic Azadi (Freedom) Tower was filled with cars and motorcycles, and not densely packed marchers, during a celebration of the 1979 revolution that birthed the Islamic Republic.

Thousands of state-organised and private vehicles descended on pre-determined routes in the capital and across Iran on Wednesday during the 42nd annual celebration, which this year was compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To observe health protocols in a country that has suffered more than 58,000 deaths and is wary of a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the run-up to year-end holidays in late March, people were ordered not to go out for celebrations on foot.

Instead, revellers were instructed to decorate their cars so they would look good in aerial shots, and express their excitement by flashing their lights and turning on their windshield wipers.

Tehran’s Azadi Tower, the main destination of all marches in the capital during revolution celebrations, was slated to see aerial military manoeuvres and parachuters descending. Revolutionary poems were read out over speakers.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) displayed three types of locally made ballistic missiles in the path of marchers in Tehran. An Indigenous aerial defence system that in June 2019 shot down an American drone was also displayed.

Common anti-US and Israel messaging was visible this year as well in slogans and banners.
Naval vessels conducted a symbolic procession in Iran’s southern waters.

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