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Iran: Tehran Stages Anti-U.S. Protests

Tehran, 11 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- More than 100,000 Iranians took to the streets of Tehran today to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution and condemn recent U.S. verbal attacks on Iran. Marchers shouting slogans against U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon converged on the Azadi (Freedom) Square in the west of the city to hear President Mohammad Khatami's speech.

Many people were brought in from outside the capital in thousands of buses, after Iranian political and religious leaders called for a huge turnout in the wake of recent U.S. accusations against Iran.

Bush last month accused Iran of being on an "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea. U.S. officials have also charged Iran with trying to destabilize Afghanistan's interim government. Iranian officials have denied the allegations.

Rallies coupled with anti-U.S. protests were also planned in towns and cities across Iran.

Reports yesterday said Iranian authorities have acted to close down the offices in Iran of the movement of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar, who has been living in Iran, has expressed hostility to the interim Afghan administration in Kabul and to the presence of American and other foreign forces in Afghanistan.