TEHERAN • Millions of Iranians marched on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution yesterday, in what the President described as a response to the new United States administration and a rejection of "threatening language".
President Hassan Rouhani joined an anniversary march through the capital, one of dozens of such events around the country. "This turnout is a response to false remarks by the new rulers in the White House and the people are telling the world through their presence that the Iranian people must be spoken to with respect," he said.
"Iranians will make those using threatening language against this nation regret it," he added.
Marchers in Teheran, including hundreds of military personnel and policemen, headed towards Azadi (Freedom) Square.
They carried "Death to America" banners and effigies of US President Donald Trump, while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs.
State TV showed footage of people stepping on Mr Trump's picture in a central Teheran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: "Thanks Mr Trump for showing the real face of America."
One placard showed a caricature of Mr Trump being punched by a hand wearing a bracelet of the Iranian flag. "America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader," a young Iranian man told state TV in a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last week, Mr Trump put Iran "on notice" after a Jan 29 missile test and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities. Iran said it will not halt its missile programme. Last weekend, new Pentagon chief James Mattis described Iran as "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world".
The US leader has taken an increasingly strident line towards Iran since taking office last month, warning that it was "playing with fire".
The rhetoric had been toned down after a July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including the US.
US flags were burned, as is traditional, although many Iranians on social media such as Twitter and Facebook used the hashtag #LoveBeyondFlags to urge an end to flag-burning during the anniversary.
They also thanked Americans for opposing Mr Trump's executive order banning entry to the US to travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries, including Iran.
Some marchers carried banners that read: "Thanks to American people for supporting Muslims."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS