Iran’s leaders marked the 44th anniversary of the 1979 revolution by defiantly blaming adversaries, including the United States, for nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022 after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in detention. “The enemy’s goal is to force the revolution and the government of the Islamic Republic to its knees,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned military officers on February 8. “Sometimes they bring up ‘women.’ Sometimes they bring up the ‘Shiite and Sunni’ issue. Sometimes they bring up ‘differences between generations.’ And sometimes they bring up other issues in order to sow discord.”
On February 11, President Ebrahim Raisi charged that Western countries had “turned women into a tool for increasing profits and capital.” Iranians “understood that the enemy is looking for deception and mischief and is not looking for women's rights, nor freedom, nor life, but is looking to take the independence of the Iranian nation and denying the freedom and peaceful life of the Iranian nation,” Raisi told a crowd at Azadi Square in Tehran. In response to Iran’s crackdown, the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union have sanctioned dozens of officials and institutions for human rights abuses.
The commemoration, celebrated over the so-called Ten Days of Dawn, coincided with existential challenges to the theocracy’s leaders, as protesters called for “death to the dictator” and regime change. Raisi lauded Iranians for not allowing the demonstrators to destabilize the country. “The enemies thought that they could bring the country to a standstill with the project of chaos and riots, and therefore they launched a hybrid war, unaware that the Iranian nation knows them and their tricks,” he said.
Raisi appealed to protesters, many of whom were in their teens and twenties, to repent. “The arms of the nation are open to accept them,” he said. Raisi praised Khamenei for pardoning or reducing the sentences of thousands of prisoners, including some protesters.
During Raisi’s speech, opposition group Edaalate Ali or “Ali’s Justice” reportedly hacked the state television news feed. A female dissident, her face shrouded by a white mask, proclaimed “Death to the Islamic Republic.” The group called for anti-government demonstrations on February 16 and urged people to withdraw money from government banks. The hack lasted for about 20 seconds. The following are remarks by Iranian leaders at separate celebrations.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
In a speech to officers of the Iranian Army’s Air Force on Feb. 8, 2023: “One of our most important needs today is national unity. National unity is a barrier. It is a strong, soaring wall standing in front of the enemy. National unity is something that played an enormous role in the victory of the Revolution and then in the progress of the Revolution. National unity. Today, we need to increase this unity as much as possible. The enemy has moved in the opposite direction. The enemy’s plot is clear to us. That is, we have no doubts about the enemy’s plot and what it wishes to do. We must know the enemy’s plot, analyze it, and plan against it. We [now] know the enemy’s plot.
“Some of their plot has been revealed by the enemy itself. Some of it has been revealed by its foolish agents here. And some of it has been shown in the reports of the organizations that prepare such reports. The enemy’s plan is clear.
“Well, there is a goal. There is a strategy and there are tactics. The enemy’s goal is to force the Revolution and the government of the Islamic Republic to its knees. Of course, they claim otherwise. The president of the United States wrote to me some 10 or 15 years ago clearly stating that ‘we do not intend to change your system.’ At the same time, we had reports that in their private centers, they were discussing how to overthrow and destroy the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic. They lie, but this is the goal. Why do they want to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees and destroy it? Well, there are various reasons. After all, the Islamic Republic has come and taken this important, strategic, profitable region, which is rich in natural and human resources, out of their hands. This is one reason.
“But another reason is that the Islamic Republic has raised the call for independence and not giving payoffs. Pay careful attention to this! We are not the only ones who want to be independent from the U.S. and global arrogance. There are other countries that want to be independent too. They want to not be under their command. The difference is that this is [only] a policy [for] them, but here it is a religious belief and conviction. This is important. This is what is important for the enemy.
“Yes, countries have this policy to not be under the influence of the U.S., but this policy changes with trade, dialogue, sitting at the negotiating table, and perhaps bribing some influential people. You see this happening in the world, don’t you? Today, they announce one thing, tomorrow the opposite. Yes, their policy is independence and not giving payoffs, but policies can be changed. This is not the case here. Here, independence and not giving payoffs are a part of religious beliefs.”
“This faith, of course, cannot be bought and sold. One who is willing to give up his faith no longer has the qualifications to work in this system. This is the difference. That is why they emphasize the Islamic Republic more than anywhere else. They are more hostile [to us] than to anyone else. They want to extend the scope of their influence over others as well. [But] here, this intention is many times more. This is the reason. I mentioned that in addition to the advantages that your country has – natural advantages, advantages in human resources, geographic advantages, climatic advantages, and everything – it also has this important [advantage] which is wanting to be an independent government, wanting to not be under another, not give payoffs, and to not accept the aggression of others. This originates from faith. That is why this is their goal. Therefore, their goal is to force the Islamic Republic to its knees. This is their goal.
“What is the strategy? Sowing discord, sowing distrust – distrust between political groups, the people’s distrust of one another, the people’s distrust of the government, the government’s distrust of the people, distrust between this person and that one, this organization and that one, so that [everyone] will distrust each other and be pessimistic about one another. When distrust arises, hope in the future will also disappear. Well, there are some differences inevitably, but these differences should not be turned into earthquake fault lines. Sometimes they bring up [the issue of] ‘women,’ sometimes they bring up the ‘Shiite and Sunni’ issue, sometimes they bring up ‘differences between generations,’ and sometimes they bring up various other issues in order to sow discord. The enemy’s strategy is to sow discord. Of course, the tactics are different. Each time they use a new tactic. The main tactics are lying and spreading rumors. They do these things so that they can sow discord. So when we see that the enemy has made unity the target of its attacks, what is our duty? Our duty is to preserve this unity, this solidarity. We must not let the enemy be victorious in its evil objective.”
President Ebrahim Raisi
In a speech on Feb. 11, 2023: “Look at what seditions and conspiracies the enemies did in this one year, but how did the proud nation of Iran, the history-making men and women, identify the evil hand of the enemy, and appeared on the stage and shone brightly, in such a way that once again in the history of the people's revolution, they defeated the enemy.”
“The Pahlavi regime came to power with a coup against the constitutional principles and the will of the nation and betrayed this country. This regime did not pay attention to all the assets of the country and its huge capacities and only sought to do something that would please America and the domination system.”
“The first achievement of the Islamic Revolution was self-confidence and domestic resources and relying on the culture of ‘we can.’ In these 44 years, it has become clear that the Iranian nation is very capable and has many capacities.”
“Today, the Islamic Republic is in the first place in many fields in the region and has the best positions in the world; Our position today cannot be compared with the time of the oppression, which is the result of the Iranian nation's self-belief and trust in God.”
“The enemies thought that they could bring the country to a standstill with the project of chaos and riot, and therefore they launched a hybrid war, unaware that the Iranian nation knows them and their tricks.”
“I say to the enemies, if you want to speak about the Iranian nation and claim to express the opinion of the Iranian nation, these people who have gathered here today are the great nation of Iran.”
“Thanks to the Islamic Revolution, our women are free and today the presence of women in universities as faculty members, professors and students and in the social, political and economic fields is prominent.”
“You, the enemies of the Islamic Revolution, have turned women into a tool for increasing profits and capital. In the matter of family, you want to set an index for human civilization, and you introduce one of the ugliest moral movements as an index of civilization. By doing this, you are exterminating the human race and moving against the family and disrupting the institution of the family.”
“We have accepted all of the monitoring activities of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and they have announced 15 times that Iran has had no deviations in its nuclear activities, but you have nuclear warheads and nuclear bombs.”
“You formed ISIS and supported it and armed this group and killed the Muslim people, but the Islamic Republic of Iran fought against ISIS in the region with the efforts of its proud men and under the command of its beloved Haj Qassem Soleimani.”
“In the field of fighting terrorism, today we are in the position of the claimant, and you, in the position of the accused, must be accountable to history, the world, and humanity.”
“How much have you wasted human rights everywhere in the region and the world? Seventy years of oppression to the Palestinian people and what oppressions you imposed on the people of Afghanistan. Thirty-five thousand disabled children and many destructions are only the result of your 20-year presence in Afghanistan, and today we are witnessing the continuation of your oppression in Yemen and other countries. You have committed many crimes and actions against human rights even against your own nations.”
“Today, the war is a war of wills. The will of the great nation of Iran, the will of the wise Leader of Islamic Iran and the Islamic world, the will of our armed forces, the will of our men and women is to protect independence and freedom and the Islamic Republic and the proud flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran even more than before. 44 years have passed since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and the authority of the Iranian nation and the authority of this flag will increase day by day.”
“Independence, justice, spirituality, religion, and justice have always been emphasized by the dear nation of Iran. The slogan 'Neither the East Nor the West' is still our slogan.”
“Those who were deceived by the enemy in these riots should know that with the fatherly and wise approach of the wise Leader of the Islamic Revolution and with the pardon and forgiveness that he said, the arms of the nation are open to accept them, and we in the government will also follow the paternal approach that the leader gave.”
“They have understood that the enemy is looking for deception and mischief and is not looking for women's rights, nor freedom, nor life, but is looking to take the independence of the Iranian nation and denying the freedom and peaceful life of the Iranian nation.”
“Our dear nation should open its arms to accept the deceived with the same look as the leader had and said, with a compassionate and generous approach.”
“The enemy should know that if it thinks that it can gain a foothold in the region by his presence, it is very wrong. We consider the security of this region and the Persian Gulf in the absence of Americans and outsiders.”
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
In a video message on Feb. 9, 2023: “Even though the enemies of the great Iranian nation have been trying, through terrorist sanctions and the failed policy of Iranophobia, to make Iranian youth disappointed. Even though enemies have utilized all available means to avert the progress of the Iranian nation in various fields, we are delighted that we have attained the highest level of progress and development in the Islamic Republic of Iran in all the areas in which the enemies had targeted Iran’s political independence and development. In the government of President Raisi, we all have focused our efforts on implementing a sustainable economic development plan as well as fully neutralizing sanctions.”