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Crowds chant 'Death to America, death to Israel' as hundreds of thousands of Iranians mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

  • Rallies were held across Iran to observe anniversary of the fall of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979
  • Crowds used the trademark revolution chants 'Death to America, Death to Israel' as they gathered in Tehran
  • Iran's army declared neutrality on 11 February, 1979 and paved the way to the US-backed monarch's collapse

By Faith Ridler For Mailonline

Published: 03:38 EST, 11 February 2019 | Updated: 09:21 EST, 11 February 2019

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Crowds chanted 'Death to America, death to Israel' as hundreds of thousands of Iranians gathered at rallies to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. 

Ceremonies were held across Iran today to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the coup.

Iran's army declared its neutrality on February 11, 1979 which paved the way for the collapse of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi - and ousted the United States' most important ally in the Middle East.

Large crowds were seen carrying Iranian flags and chanting 'Death to Israel, Death to America' - trademark chants of the revolution - on Azadi Square in Tehran today. 

Rallies were held across the state to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the revolution (Pictured, Iranians burn US flags in Tehran)
Rallies were held across the state to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the revolution (Pictured, Iranians burn US flags in Tehran)

Rallies were held across the state to observe the anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the triumph of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite cleric who led the revolution (Pictured, Iranians burn US flags in Tehran)

Men gather to burn American flags during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution - which ousted the United States' most important ally in the Middle East
Men gather to burn American flags during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution - which ousted the United States' most important ally in the Middle East

Men gather to burn American flags during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution - which ousted the United States' most important ally in the Middle East

Large crowds were seen carrying Iranian flags and chanting 'Death to Israel, Death to America' - trademark chants of the revolution
Large crowds were seen carrying Iranian flags and chanting 'Death to Israel, Death to America' - trademark chants of the revolution

Large crowds were seen carrying Iranian flags and chanting 'Death to Israel, Death to America' - trademark chants of the revolution

An Iranian woman holds up a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as she makes the victory sign during a rally marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran
An Iranian woman holds up a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as she makes the victory sign during a rally marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran

An Iranian woman holds up a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as she makes the victory sign during a rally marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran

Soldiers, students, clerics and women holding small children flocked to the streets of Tehran, many carrying portraits of Khomeini and Iran's current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Soldiers, students, clerics and women holding small children flocked to the streets of Tehran, many carrying portraits of Khomeini and Iran's current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Soldiers, students, clerics and women holding small children flocked to the streets of Tehran, many carrying portraits of Khomeini and Iran's current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iranians were also pictured burning numerous American and Israeli flags as they celebrated the landmark anniversary in the country's capital.

A group were even caught on camera burning a dummy representing the US President Donald Trump. 

One banner read: 'Much to the dismay of America, the revolution has reached its 40th year.' 

Another said: 'Down with USA, Down with Israel, Victory to Islam'.

Soldiers, students and clerics flocked to the streets of cities and towns across Iran today, many carrying portraits of Khomeini and Iran's current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

In a speech given at Azadi Square, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was determined to expand its military power and ballistic missile program despite mounting pressure to curb its defensive work.

Numerous US and Israeli flags burn in a heap as attendees of a rally to commemorate 40 years since the Islamic Revolution gather
Numerous US and Israeli flags burn in a heap as attendees of a rally to commemorate 40 years since the Islamic Revolution gather

Numerous US and Israeli flags burn in a heap as attendees of a rally to commemorate 40 years since the Islamic Revolution gather

Iranians burn flags of Israel during commemorations of the 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution in the capital Tehran
Iranians burn flags of Israel during commemorations of the 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution in the capital Tehran

Iranians burn flags of Israel during commemorations of the 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution in the capital Tehran

Many held umbrellas as they sheltered from the rain during a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution
Many held umbrellas as they sheltered from the rain during a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution

Many held umbrellas as they sheltered from the rain during a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution

An Iranian woman holds a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump, holding a sign that reads 'I was wrong', at the rally in Tehran
An Iranian woman holds a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump, holding a sign that reads 'I was wrong', at the rally in Tehran

An Iranian woman holds a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump, holding a sign that reads 'I was wrong', at the rally in Tehran

In a speech at Tehran's Azadi Square, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was determined to expand its military power
In a speech at Tehran's Azadi Square, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was determined to expand its military power

In a speech at Tehran's Azadi Square, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was determined to expand its military power

An Iranian holds up a poster showing a portrait of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a small portrait in the corner showing Islamic Revolution founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
An Iranian holds up a poster showing a portrait of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a small portrait in the corner showing Islamic Revolution founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

An Iranian holds up a poster showing a portrait of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a small portrait in the corner showing Islamic Revolution founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

'We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of missiles and will continue our path and our military power,' President Hassan Rouhani said
'We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of missiles and will continue our path and our military power,' President Hassan Rouhani said

'We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of missiles and will continue our path and our military power,' President Hassan Rouhani said

'We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of ... missiles and will continue our path and our military power,' Rouhani said.

The large turnout at the state-sponsored rallies came as Iranians face mounting economic hardships.

Last year, Iran cracked down on protests over poor living standards in 80 cities and towns that posed the most serious challenge to its clerical leadership since a 2009 revolt over disputed elections.

Prices of bread, cooking oil and other staples have soared since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions. Iranian officials said the move amounted to 'economic warfare'.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks to crowds of thousands on a flower-covered stage during a ceremony on Monday
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks to crowds of thousands on a flower-covered stage during a ceremony on Monday

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks to crowds of thousands on a flower-covered stage during a ceremony on Monday

Five women smile as they hold posters bearing the picture of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian flags
Five women smile as they hold posters bearing the picture of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian flags

Five women smile as they hold posters bearing the picture of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian flags

The large turnout at these state-sponsored rallies comes as Iranians faces rising prices and food shortages which have triggered waves of protests (Pictured, crowds at the Azadi Square in Tehran)
The large turnout at these state-sponsored rallies comes as Iranians faces rising prices and food shortages which have triggered waves of protests (Pictured, crowds at the Azadi Square in Tehran)

The large turnout at these state-sponsored rallies comes as Iranians faces rising prices and food shortages which have triggered waves of protests (Pictured, crowds at the Azadi Square in Tehran)

Last year, Iran cracked down on protests over poor living standards in over 80 cities and towns that posed the most serious challenge to its clerical leadership since a 2009 revolt over disputed elections (Pictured, Iranians assemble in Tehran's Azadi Square)
Last year, Iran cracked down on protests over poor living standards in over 80 cities and towns that posed the most serious challenge to its clerical leadership since a 2009 revolt over disputed elections (Pictured, Iranians assemble in Tehran's Azadi Square)

Last year, Iran cracked down on protests over poor living standards in over 80 cities and towns that posed the most serious challenge to its clerical leadership since a 2009 revolt over disputed elections (Pictured, Iranians assemble in Tehran's Azadi Square)

One banner, held by a group of Iranians in Tehran's Azadi Square, read 'USA overshadowed by Islamic Republic of Iran heavily for last 40 years and soon will collapse'
One banner, held by a group of Iranians in Tehran's Azadi Square, read 'USA overshadowed by Islamic Republic of Iran heavily for last 40 years and soon will collapse'

One banner, held by a group of Iranians in Tehran's Azadi Square, read 'USA overshadowed by Islamic Republic of Iran heavily for last 40 years and soon will collapse'

Dozens of men in green raincoats watch as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes a speech on a stage in Freedom Square
Dozens of men in green raincoats watch as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes a speech on a stage in Freedom Square

Dozens of men in green raincoats watch as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes a speech on a stage in Freedom Square

In January, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled. But he remained defiant as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich and unleashed secret police on dissenters
In January, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled. But he remained defiant as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich and unleashed secret police on dissenters

In January, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled. But he remained defiant as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich and unleashed secret police on dissenters

A woman holds up a sign showing portraits of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his predecessor  above the rally
A woman holds up a sign showing portraits of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his predecessor  above the rally

A woman holds up a sign showing portraits of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his predecessor above the rally

The coup, which resulted in the collapse of the country's monarchy on April 1, 1979, led to the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran (Pictured, Iranians in Tehran)
The coup, which resulted in the collapse of the country's monarchy on April 1, 1979, led to the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran (Pictured, Iranians in Tehran)

The coup, which resulted in the collapse of the country's monarchy on April 1, 1979, led to the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran (Pictured, Iranians in Tehran)

An elderly man stands under an umbrella with a sign reading 'Down with the USA' as he attends the rally in Iran's capital
An elderly man stands under an umbrella with a sign reading 'Down with the USA' as he attends the rally in Iran's capital

An elderly man stands under an umbrella with a sign reading 'Down with the USA' as he attends the rally in Iran's capital

In January, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was facing its worst economic crisis since the Shah was toppled. But he remained defiant as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich and unleashed secret police on dissenters.

In a speech at Tehran's Azadi Square, Rouhani said US efforts to isolate Iran would fail.

'We will not let America become victorious. Iranian people have and will have some economic difficulties but we will overcome the problems by helping each other,' he said.

Washington and its Arab allies have viewed Iran with great suspicion since the Islamic Revolution, fearing Khomeini's radical ideology would inspire militants across the Middle East. 

February 11 is considered a victory day in Iran as it marks the fall of the monarchy and the formation of an Islamic Republic
February 11 is considered a victory day in Iran as it marks the fall of the monarchy and the formation of an Islamic Republic

February 11 is considered a victory day in Iran as it marks the fall of the monarchy and the formation of an Islamic Republic

Two boys hold up posters of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) and late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (left) during the rally
Two boys hold up posters of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) and late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (left) during the rally

Two boys hold up posters of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) and late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (left) during the rally

Students dressed in black, white and gold each wave an Iranian flag as they commemorate the fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
Students dressed in black, white and gold each wave an Iranian flag as they commemorate the fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

Students dressed in black, white and gold each wave an Iranian flag as they commemorate the fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

Young girls have the colours of the Iranian flag painted on their fingers and writing on their hands as they attend the rally
Young girls have the colours of the Iranian flag painted on their fingers and writing on their hands as they attend the rally

Young girls have the colours of the Iranian flag painted on their fingers and writing on their hands as they attend the rally

A group of men smile and make peace signs with their hands as they attend the busy rally alongside thousands in Tehran
A group of men smile and make peace signs with their hands as they attend the busy rally alongside thousands in Tehran

A group of men smile and make peace signs with their hands as they attend the busy rally alongside thousands in Tehran

A young boy waves a yellow flag ahead of another protester holding a sign that reads 'Down with USA, Down with Israel, Victory to Islam'
A young boy waves a yellow flag ahead of another protester holding a sign that reads 'Down with USA, Down with Israel, Victory to Islam'

A young boy waves a yellow flag ahead of another protester holding a sign that reads 'Down with USA, Down with Israel, Victory to Islam'

Young students dressed in matching camouflage outfits wave flags as they listen to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speak
Young students dressed in matching camouflage outfits wave flags as they listen to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speak

Young students dressed in matching camouflage outfits wave flags as they listen to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speak

Numerous Iranians hold flags, posters and banners as they attend a rally at Azadi Sqaure in Tehran on Monday, February 11
Numerous Iranians hold flags, posters and banners as they attend a rally at Azadi Sqaure in Tehran on Monday, February 11

Numerous Iranians hold flags, posters and banners as they attend a rally at Azadi Sqaure in Tehran on Monday, February 11

What was the Iranian Revolution?

The Iranian, or Islamic, Revolution was a popular uprising which took place in Iran between 1978 and 1979.

This coup, which resulted in the collapse of the country's monarchy on April 1, 1979, led to the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran.

It was the result of increasing social discontent in the country throughout the 1970s - with economic difficulties, and sociopolitical repression under the regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, adding to restlessness in the masses.

Demonstrations against the Shah began in 1977 and very quickly developed into a campaign of civil resistance which intensified throughout the year.

Between August and December 1978, the country came to a near-standstill due to mounting strikes and demonstrations across Iran.

A few months later, on January 17, 1979, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was forced to leave Iran as the political unrest had transformed into a revolution. 

He was granted asylum in Egypt , where he died in 1980 - knowing he would likely have faced execution had he ever tried to return to Iran.

After the Shah's exile, the monarch's duties were left to a regency council and Shapour Bakhtiar - who served as the last Prime Minister of Iran under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlav.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an Iranian politician who spent more than 15 years in exile for opposition to the Shah, was then invited back to the country by the government.

Iran's monarchy eventually collapsed on February 11, 1979 when rebels overwhelmed troops loyal to the monarch in the street.

The country then voted by national referendum to become an Islamic republic on April 1 - and Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the state in December.

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