34 Years Later, ‘Down with USA’ Still Heard

By Connor J. Wangler
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Source: TIME.com

November 4, 2013 marks the 34th anniversary of the beginning of 1979-1981 Iranian Hostage Crisis where Iranian Islamic students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. Commonly referred to by Iranians as the ‘den of espionage,’ the embassy was claimed to be the home for a covert CIA unit responsible for spying on Iranians. For the past 34 years, in what has now become a hardliner ritual, Iranians have gathered outside the former embassy to protest the United States and to celebrate what was seen as a victory of the West. 2013, once again, saw the demonstrations of anti-US sentiment.

In a lead up to these annual demonstrations, anti-US billboards were plastered across the Iranian capital city.

The difference between this year’s protests and those of years prior is the reaction by the Iranian government. Traditionally Iranian leaders have hailed the anniversary as a victory for Islam; however, this year, newly elected President Rouhani has rebuked protestors for harsh tones against the US in light of the ongoing negotiations. Tehran authorities have even ordered recently raised anti-US billboards to be taken down claiming the organization who hung them did not have permission. This has shocked hardliners who traditionally enjoy the full support of the government. According to the Tehran Times, many of them, who already disagree with the actions taken by Rouhani in the nuclear negotiations with the West, claim that Rouhani is out of touch with the Iranian people.

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Source: iran.usembassy.gov

Despite the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the break in relations with the country, the US Department of State still maintains ventures to reach out to the Iranian people and their government. It maintains several Iranian-targeted social media presences, such as Twitter and Facebook Farsi language accounts. In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the US’s Virtual Embassy for Iran in an attempt to improve its reach to Iranian society. It serves as an information portal for Iranians seeking information on visas, US policy, and educational opportunities in the US.

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