Thousands of pro-government Iranians gathered outside the U.S. embassy on Monday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis, which saw 52 Americans held captive in the building for 444 days.
The Nov. 4, 1979 siege on the U.S. embassy was staged by student revolutionaries in reaction to the Carter administration’s decision to admit the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the U.S. for medical treatment.
Tuesday's event was festive. The VICE News crew was the only U.S. news outlet on the ground, and they were greeted warmly by the crowd. The demonstrators stressed that their well-worn “Death to America” songs and slogans were aimed at U.S. foreign policy-makers, not the American people.
And it wasn't just America under fire. Children dressed as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were led around in toy shackles by others dressed as fighters from the Iran-backed political and paramilitary group Hezbollah.
Younger kids enjoyed an anti-Semitic fairground game based on the Angry Birds franchise, while teenagers fired paintballs at posters of President Donald Trump.
The event was clearly promoted by the hard-line government. Attendees, many of whom had been bussed in from provincial towns and suburbs, watched speeches by senior military figures.
Meanwhile, in an appearance seemingly timed to coincide with the event, the head of Iran's nuclear program announced massive breaches of Iran's nuclear deal with Western countries.
The announcement — and the event — seemed designed to project an image of Iranian strength and national unity. With Iran’s allies under pressure in Lebanon, and its consulate in Karbala, Iraq, reeling from attacks, such messages might be needed more than ever.
Cover: Protesters at the celebration of the anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis.