July 25, 2014 | Policy Brief

Quds Day In Iran

Amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Iran’s celebration of Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) today affirmed the Islamic Republic’s continued rejection of Israel’s existence. 

Celebrated on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, Quds Day often serves as a lowest-common denominator in Iranian politics, where competing actors within Iran’s political and religious hierarchy gather in anti-Israeli sloganeering. This year’s rally included appearances by President Rouhani, the Supreme Leader’s son Mojtaba Khamenei, former Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, along with current IRGC Commander Mohammed Ali Jafari and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaie

In the holy city of Qom, numerous clerics turned out for the rally, including the prominent hardline-cleric, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. But the festivities are not limited to Iran’s mainstream Shia. Politically active members of Iran’s religious minorities, such as the Armenian Christian representative of the Parliament, offered tidings.

In Tehran today, rallies took no less than nine routes, which were approved by the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council. Rally highlights included remarks by, Morteza Tamaddon, a former provincial Governor-General for Tehran who was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for human rights violations. Tamaddon proclaimed, “According to the command of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Quds Day is the day of death to Israel.” The IRGC’s Aerospace Force Commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, predicted that “the collapse of the Zionists is accelerated.” Rezaie exclaimed that today’s “rally will act like a bomb, and will land upon the heads of the Zionist regime.” Ahmadinejad, true to form, proclaimed that the “real Holocaust is in Palestine.”

Prior to the holiday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted that “the world will see the Iranian nation’s mighty roar,” while President Hassan Rouhani encouraged the country to “show the world that oppression and occupation cannot be forever and permanent.” While there are no exact numbers available, Iranian sources indicated that the turnout was high.

Quds Day, a prominent holdover from the milieu from which the Islamic Republic arose, does little to convey the moderate image that the Rouhani government seeks to project. Indeed, despite the priority given to international diplomacy by the current leadership, Quds Day underscores that ideological foundations are not easily changed. 

Behnam Ben Taleblu is an Iran research analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.