Week in Brief- Part 1
Since I didn't have any access to the Internet in the homes of family members (after all, Esfahan isn't Tehran--people can live without the World Wide Web), I thought I'd sum up my week's activities now, two days after my return to Tehran.
My trip to Esfahan fell in the last week of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. In the early period of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini called for Muslims around the world to show their solidarity with Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israeli occupation. He officially declared the last Friday of Ramadan as Qods (Arabic for "Jerusalem") Day, which not only represents solidarity with oppressed Palestinians, but also symbolizes the taking back of Jerusalem from Israeli seizure. As a side note, Friday is significant because it is the Muslim sabbath, in the way that Saturday is for Jews and Sunday for Christians.
In order to gain a sense of Iranian support for the Palestinian Arab cause, I attended Esfahan's Qods Day, held in the enchanting Meydan-e-Emam, a site, which has a capacity for about 100,000 people.
As we drove to the event, we spotted many signs such as this one decorating the intersections.
Before entering Meydan e Imam, we were greeted by this symbolic display. The man in the front represents the Palestinian freedom fighter chained down in three directions by entities representing Israeli and U.S. interests.
Crowds of thousands of men, women, and children came to the Meydan for Qods Day, and to participate in the Friday prayers. The Imam who led the prayers over a loudspeaker also gave political speeches denouncing Israel's occupation of Qods (Jerusalem), and its human rights abuses against Palestinians. This rally also brought the nuclear issue into play, and specifically involved the chanting of "Marg bar America! Marg bar Israel! Marg bar England!" Thousands of fists would be thrust into the air with each passionate utterance of Marg bar, or "Death to"...
The first picture below shows the turnout from the men's side (on the right half of the Meydan), while the second is taken from the left half, where the women gathered.
In the end, it became clear that the central theme of Qods Day was Iran's right to nuclear energy, a message stamped on fliers, posters, and other paraphernalia. Throughout the day, news reports followed the masses all around Iran; from the northern point to the southern tip, video clips showed tens of millions of people in every major city across Iran marching through streets with fists thrown high, and shouts of protest drowning out all other noise. It was surprising to witness the amount of people who had poured out of their homes and into the streets and mosques in support of Qods Day.
Week in Brief, Part 2, will feature more observations in Esfahan.