Qods Day

This article is about the annual pro-Palestinian day of protest. For the Israeli national holiday, see Jerusalem Day.
Quds Day
Observed by Iran, and other Muslim countries and communities
Type Political
Significance Demonstrations against Israel, and its control of East Jerusalem; solidarity with the Palestinian people
Begins Last Friday of Ramadan
Date
2013 date
2014 date
2015 date
2016 date
Frequency annual
Related to Anti-Zionism

Quds Day, officially in Iran known as International Quds Day (روز جهانی قدس), is an annual event that began in Iran in 1979, that is commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan,[1] expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposing Zionism as well as Israel's control of Jerusalem; Quds is that city's Arabic name.

Quds Day rallies were first suggested by Ebrahim Yazdi, the first foreign minister of Islamic Republic of Iran, and then introduced in Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979,[2] and the day's parades are sponsored and organized annually by the Iranian government there.[3][4]

Quds Day is also commemorated in several countries in the Arab and Muslim world with protests against the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem.[5][6]

History

The annual anti-Zionist day of protest was conceived originally by the leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In August 1979, the year of the Revolution, in solidarity with the Palestinians, Khomeini declared the liberation of Jerusalem a religious duty to all Muslims.[7][8] He stated:

I invite Muslims all over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the legitimate rights of the Muslim people of Palestine. For many years, I have been notifying the Muslims of the danger posed by the usurper Israel which today has intensified its savage attacks against the Palestinian brothers and sisters, and which, in the south of Lebanon in particular, is continually bombing Palestinian homes in the hope of crushing the Palestinian struggle. I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join together to sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters. I call on all the Muslims of the world to select as Al-Quds Day the last Friday in the holy month of Ramadan — which is itself a determining period and can also be the determiner of the Palestinian people’s fate — and through a ceremony demonstrating the solidarity of Muslims world-wide, announce their support for the legitimate rights of the Muslim people. I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels.

The day is also marked throughout Muslim and Arab countries. During the First Intifada in January 1988, the Jerusalem Committee of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference decided that Quds Day should be commemorated in public events throughout the Arab world.[10] In countries with significant Shi'a populations, particularly Lebanon where Hezbollah organizes Quds Day events, there is significant attendance. Events are also held in Iraq, the Palestinian Gaza Strip, and Syria. Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine endorse Quds Day, and hold ceremonies. Outside of the Middle East and the wider Arab World, Quds Day protests have taken place in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, the United States, and some predominantly Muslim countries in east Asia.[11]

Quds Day events

In Iran, the day's parades are sponsored and organized by the government.[3][4] Events include mass marches and rallies. Senior Iranian leaders give fiery speeches condemning Israel (which they often refer to as "the regime occupying Jerusalem"), as well as the U.S. government. The crowds respond with chants of "Death to Israel", and "Death to America".[11] Many Iranians under the age of 30 continue to participate in Quds Day events; however, recent rallies have not shown a proportionate percentage of participation by young Iranians, with many Iranian students saying that the Arab-Israeli conflict has "nothing to do with us."[12]

2005 Quds Day

Over one million people, with over 100,000 in each of Iran's eight largest cities, marched in the 2005 Quds Day protests in Tehran and other cities across Iran.

Protests were staged throughout the Middle East and the wider Arab World, with over 30,000 Bahrainis marching in Manama, and 6,000 Hezbollah volunteers marching in Beirut.[13]

2007 Quds Day

The 2007 Quds Day protest saw millions of Iranians march in support of the Palestinians. During the rallies in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad said that the "creation, continued existence and unlimited (Western) support for this [Zionist] regime is an insult to human dignity." The protests also featured signs denouncing the U.S government for its support of Israel.[14]

Over 3,000 people marched in Damascus carrying Palestinian flags. Hezbollah organized marches in the city's Yarmouk refugee camp.[14]

2009 Quds Day

Supporters of Iranian opposition groups used the 2009 Quds Day to stage protests against President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government in response to the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election. Estimates put the opposition protest in the tens of thousands, with participants shouting slogans in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who received the most votes in the presidential elections.[15][16] Rejecting the government's support of Palestinian militancy, opposition protesters chanted, "No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.”[16][17] There were reports of similar protests in Isfahan, Tabriz, Yazd and Shiraz.[16]

Iranian state TV played down the unrest,[18] and state-funded Press TV reported that millions of Iranians marched for the Palestinian cause in Iran and different countries throughout the Middle East and the world.[19] Independent sources estimated "tens of thousands" to over 100,000 in Tehran,[17][18][20] many of them bused in by the regime.[16] At least ten anti-government protesters were arrested during the demonstrations. An angry crowd of Ahmadinejad supporters attacked Mousavi's car while shouting "Death to the hypocrite Mousavi." In other cities Basiji militiamen attacked protesters.[18]

As he has done on previous such occasions, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused the Israeli version of the Holocaust and the claim that 'God' gave Israelis the land, once more provoking intense criticism and condemnation from Western governments in particular. He stated, "The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim."[21] His statements drew immediate condemnation from the governments of the United States, Russia, and the European Union.[22][23]

2010 Quds Day

At the 2010 Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iranian President Ahmadinejad again predicted the demise of Israel, stating, "If the leaders of the region do not have the guts, then the people of the region are capable of removing the Zionist regime from the world scene." He dismissed any Israeli military threat to Iran's nuclear program, declaring, "The Zionist regime is nothing and even its (Western) masters are too small to conduct any kind of aggression against Iran and the rights of the Iranian people." Ahmadinejad also proclaimed new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians as "stillborn and doomed." The tens of thousands of Iranians participating in the rallies continued the regular chants of "Death to America! Death to Israel!"[24] The day before the rallies, Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted, "Israel Is A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated."[25]

In Quetta, Pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked Pakistani Shias holding a Quds Day rally . The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which killed at least 65 people and wounded 160. Two days earlier, on September 1, the Pakistani Taliban had targeted a Shia procession in Lahore, killing 35 in a series of three suicide bombings.[26]

2011 Quds Day

It was held on 26 August 2011. It was the first time that Quds Day was held after Arab Spring. There were protests in support of Bahrain within Iran. Yemen, Egypt, and Bahrain also held anti-regime and anti-Zionist protests.

2012 Quds Day

On 17 August 2012, millions of Iranians commemorated al-Quds Day, where they waved Palestinian flags, chanted "Death to Israel and America," and burned Israeli and American flags. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called to destroy Israel, which he termed an "insult to all humanity" and called to remove the "Zionist black stain." Ahmadinejad said that “the Zionist regime is a tool to dominate the Middle East," as well as that world powers are “thirsty for Iranian blood.” Ahmadinejad stated that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour. Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of (Palestinian) land, in the future this story (of Israel’s existence) will repeat.” He further stated that "The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionist."[27][28][29]

In Lebanon, Hezbollah Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech that only a few rockets fired by the group’s militia could cause massive casualties, given its well-planned target list, explaining that:

Hundreds of people turned out in Gaza to protest the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said "We are committed to the right of return and to liberation of prisoners and resistance against the occupation as long as it is on our land".[30]

In Bahrain, dozens took part in the protests which were dispersed by security forces' tear gas.[31]

2013 Quds Day

Outgoing Iranian President Ahmadinejad addressed Al-Quds day crowds, warning of an impending regional storm that would uproot Israel. He also said that Israel "has no place in the region."[32]

Canada

In Toronto, Canada, a crowd of approximately 400 attended an Al-Quds Day rally. One of the speakers, Elias Hazineh,[33] reportedly elicited cheers from the crowd when he declared an ultimatum to Israelis: “You have to leave Jerusalem. You have to leave Palestine. When somebody tries to rob a bank the police get in, they don't negotiate and we have been negotiating with them for 65 years. We say get out or you are dead! We give them two minutes and then we start shooting. And that’s the only way that they will understand.” He concluded his speech by quoting from the Koran: "And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and steeds of war - that's the only thing that they'll understand!" A video of the event, including Hazineh's speech, was later posted online.[34][35][36][37][38]

See also

Notes

External links

  • Official International Quds Day in Hamasna web site
  • Ayotollah Khomeini's pronouncements on al-Quds
  • Jihad and jingoism on Iran's streets Guardian Unlimited on Quds Day demonstrations
  • Iranian protesters in the 2009 Quds day, shouting slogans against the Iranian government
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