Photographs taken at the Quds Day rallies in Iran. Left: an exhibit showing a shoe stepping on the US; right: Israeli, US, UK, and French flags set on fire (Fars News, September 3, 2010)
1. Since it was first conceived by Khomeini and the government of Iran in 1979, Quds Day ("Jerusalem Day”) is held annually by the Iranians and their supporters on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan. Marked in Iran, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world, the events are a show of support from Iran and the Muslim world for the Palestinian cause and the "liberation of Jerusalem”, and also a statement of defiance against the US and the West ("the arrogant powers”).
2. This year’s Quds Day was marked on September 3. As in previous years, Iran was the focal point of the events. Numerous demonstrations, rallies, and speeches were held in Tehran and in other Iranian cities, accompanied by a media campaign as well. Similar events also took place throughout the Middle East and beyond, albeit on a much smaller scale. Quds Day events were held, among other things, in Lebanon (led by Hezbollah), the Gaza Strip (organized by Hamas and the PIJ), Syria (organized by the Palestinians), Turkey (organized by radical Islamic organizations), India (where Shi’ites took part in the demonstrations), Pakistan (where an IED killed 37 demonstrators), Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the US, Europe, and other world countries, including New Zealand, South Africa, and Venezuela.
3. Even though Quds Day bears an Iranian-Shi'ite character, the events were held not only in countries with large Shi’ite communities (Iran, Lebanon, Iraq) but also in countries with a Sunni majority (Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan). The events held outside of Iran were mostly orchestrated by organizations or activists who share Iran’s ideological or religious worldview, in which support of the Palestinians coexists with intense hostility towards Israel, the West, and its values.
4. The organizations and activists which took part in Quds Day’s events included the following: a Shi’ite terrorist organization operating in Lebanon (Hezbollah), radical Islamic activists in Sunni countries (such as Turkey), Sunni terrorist organizations supported by Iran (Hamas and the PIJ in the Gaza Strip), pro-Iranian Shi’ite activists in countries with Shi’ite populations (such as India), and anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian activists in the West (US, UK, and other European countries).
5. The Quds Day events were used by the Iranians and their supporters to disseminate political propaganda, such as delegitimizing Israel ("the cancerous tumor”) and calling for its destruction; spreading anti-Semitic hate using The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to slam Israel, Zionism, and Judaism; engaging in anti-American and anti-Western incitement; rejecting the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, denying their legitimacy; attacking moderate Arab governments and the PA; and praising the path of "resistance” (terrorism and violence). In addition, slanderous remarks were made against Iran’s opposition movement and its leaders.
6. Messages incorporated into speeches given by the president of Iran and other top Iranian speakers emphasized their opposition to the Israel-PA negotiations and their denunciation of the moderate Arab countries. Those messages are a reflection of Iran’s desire to present an alternative political-strategic or even ideological worldview to that of the US and the West, and to position itself at the forefront of those who oppose the US-led regional processes taking place in the Middle East, mainly the peace process. As a result, the Iranians emphasized the international character of Quds Day, whose aim, according to them, is not only to free Palestine but also to liberate other nations from the burden of the "arrogant powers”.
7. Following is a summary of Quds Day events in Iran and in other places in the Middle East and elsewhere.
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