Iran cancels anti-Israeli rallies over pandemic fears

Al-Monitor – A fresh spike in coronavirus transmissions has forced Iranian officials to cancel a state-organized annual march against Israel.

After several days of intense deliberation and modifications of plans, the Iranian government ultimately swallowed the bitter pill and cancelled nationwide anti-Israeli rallies scheduled for May 22.

The powerful Council for Coordination of Islamic Propagation cited worries about fresh spreading of the novel coronavirus that has gripped Iran for three months now. The decision was made after some Iranian provinces reported jumps in new infections following a fleeting period of respite.

The event, known as International Quds Day, has been held in Iran and a few other Muslim nations since 1979 after the founder of the Islamic Republic, Rouhollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as a day for all Muslims worldwide to express their rage at Israel and solidarity with Palestinians. The government-sponsored anti-Israel marches have traditionally received extensive state media coverage in Iran.

Several alternate solutions were on the table for this year’s event, including motorcade parades instead of public rallies. However, the authorities are now simply promoting a televised speech by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian leader is known for issuing stern threats against the Jewish state while repeatedly asserting that the Islamic Republic is not pursuing an anti-Semite agenda. Khamenei predicted in 2015 that “the Zionist regime will not survive beyond the next 25 years.”

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