|Observed by||Iran, and other Muslim countries and communities|
|Significance||Demonstrations against Israel, and its control of Jerusalem; solidarity with the Palestinian people|
|Begins||Last Friday of Ramadan|
|2013 date||August 2|
|2014 date||July 25|
Quds Day (Jerusalem Day, Quds is the city's Arabic name), officially called International Quds Day (روز جهانی قدس) in Iran, is an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan that was initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and oppose Zionism as well as Israel's control of Jerusalem. In Iran, the government sponsors and organizes the day's rallies. Quds Day is also held in several countries in the Arab and Muslim world with protests against Israel.
An annual anti-Zionist day of protest was first suggested by Ebrahim Yazdi, the first foreign minister of Islamic Republic of Iran, to the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini coopted Yazdi's idea, and on August 7, 1979, he declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan each year as Quds Day, in which Muslims worldwide would unite in solidarity against Israel and in support of the Palestinians. Khomeini declared the liberation of Jerusalem a religious duty to all Muslims. That day, he stated:
I invite Muslims all over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the legitimate rights of the Muslim people of Palestine. For many years, I have been notifying the Muslims of the danger posed by the usurper Israel which today has intensified its savage attacks against the Palestinian brothers and sisters, and which, in the south of Lebanon in particular, is continually bombing Palestinian homes in the hope of crushing the Palestinian struggle. I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join together to sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters. I call on all the Muslims of the world to select as Al-Quds Day the last Friday in the holy month of Ramadan — which is itself a determining period and can also be the determiner of the Palestinian people’s fate — and through a ceremony demonstrating the solidarity of Muslims world-wide, announce their support for the legitimate rights of the Muslim people. I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels.
The day is also marked throughout Muslim and Arab countries. During the First Intifada in January 1988, the Jerusalem Committee of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference decided that Quds Day should be commemorated in public events throughout the Arab world. In countries with significant Shi'a populations, particularly Lebanon where Hezbollah organizes Quds Day events, there is significant attendance. Events are also held in Iraq, the Palestinian Gaza Strip, and Syria. Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine endorse Quds Day, and hold ceremonies. Outside of the Middle East and the wider Arab World, Quds Day protests have taken place in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, the United States, and some predominantly Muslim countries in east Asia.
Quds Day events
In Iran, the day's parades are sponsored and organized by the government. Events include mass marches and rallies. Senior Iranian leaders give fiery speeches condemning Israel (which they often refer to as "the regime occupying Jerusalem"), as well as the U.S. government. The crowds respond with chants of "Death to Israel", and "Death to America". Many Iranians under the age of 30 continue to participate in Quds Day events; however, recent rallies have not shown a proportionate percentage of participation by young Iranians, with many Iranian students saying that the Arab-Israeli conflict has "nothing to do with us."
On Quds Day 1985, amid the "war of the cities" of the Iran–Iraq War, Iraqi bombers and long-range missiles struck 14 cities, reportedly killing at least 78 people and wounding 326. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the sound of the exploding bombs and missiles in Tehran was drowned out by the crowds changed War, war until victory 3/8.
On Quds Day 1987, held shortly after the outbreak of the First Intifada, effigies of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Israeli leaders were burned in Iran "as a sign of Moslem nations' revolutionary wrath against Zionism, imperialism and apartheid." In Tehran, President Ali Khamenei said the Palestinians "should resist and fight Zionism. This is the message of the whole Iranian people who chant the 'Death to Israel' slogan."
On Quds Day 1989, Iranian parliament speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani said that Palestinians should kill Americans and other Westerners in retaliation for attacks by the Israeli military in the occupied territories: "If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine they will kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, they (Israelis) could not continue these wrongs. It is not hard to kill Americans or Frenchman. It is a bit difficult to kill (Israelis). But there are so many (Americans and Frenchman) everywhere in the world."
Fearing an Israeli military strike, Hezbollah cancelled its annual Quds Day rallies in 1992 for the first time in the group's history. 10 days earlier, a suicide bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina destroyed the Israeli embassy there and killed 29 people injured 242 others. Hezbollah was implicated in the attack.
In 1994, Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani told demonstrators, "Can Israel really remain? In my opinion it cannot. That artificial entity cannot survive."
In 1998, former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani stated that Israel's crimes against the Palestinians exceeded those of Adolf Hitler against the Jews. He added, "The Zionist regime is a fake government and homeland which is shaped with millions of homeless Palestinians and hundreds of thousands of Muslim martyrs... I'm sure that in the future we will have Islamic Palestine. I'm sure nothing will remain as the territory of Israel."
In 1999, a reported three million people attended Quds Day rallies in Iran. In Tehran, a resolution was read aloud calling for struggle "until the aggressor Zionist regime is annihilated." Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri told worshipers at Friday prayers, "There is no country named Israel. There is Palestine, and the thieves who have occupied the houses of Palestinians should be removed from those houses." In Beirut, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told thousands of supporters, "On Al-Quds Day, I reaffirm to you that Israel will be eliminated one day, God willing." At the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, protesters carried a banner that read "America is the enemy of God."
Over one million people, with over 100,000 in each of Iran's eight largest cities, marched in the 2005 Quds Day protests in Tehran and other cities across Iran. Protests were staged throughout the Middle East and the wider Arab World, with over 30,000 Bahrainis marching in Manama, and 6,000 Hezbollah volunteers marching in Beirut.
In 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened any country that supports Israel, and said the U.S. and its allies had "imposed a group of terrorists" on the region with their support of the Jewish state. He added that Israel no longer had any reason to exist and would soon disappear: "This regime, thanks to God, has lost the reason for its existence. Efforts to stabilize this fake (Israeli) regime, by the grace of God, have completely failed... You should believe that this regime is disappearing."
That year, Hezbollah did not organize a mass rally for Qods Day, stating it was unnecessary because it had recently held a demonstration on September 22 to celebrate what it declared to be its "victory" over Israel in that summer's conflict. In the place of a mass event, the day was commemorated with an "invitation-only event in a concert hall [which] featured an orchestra, a choir and several anti-Israel speeches."
The 2007 Quds Day protest saw millions of Iranians march in support of the Palestinians. During the rallies in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad said that the "creation, continued existence and unlimited (Western) support for this [Zionist] regime is an insult to human dignity." The protests also featured signs denouncing the U.S government for its support of Israel. Over 3,000 people marched in Damascus carrying Palestinian flags. Hezbollah organized marches in the city's Yarmouk refugee camp.
2009 Quds Day
Supporters of Iranian opposition groups used the 2009 Quds Day to stage protests against President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government in response to the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election. Estimates put the opposition protest in the tens of thousands, with participants shouting slogans in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who received the most votes in the presidential elections. Rejecting the government's support of Palestinian militancy, opposition protesters chanted, "No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.” There were reports of similar protests in Isfahan, Tabriz, Yazd and Shiraz.
Iranian state TV played down the unrest, and state-funded Press TV reported that millions of Iranians marched for the Palestinian cause in Iran and different countries throughout the Middle East and the world. Independent sources estimated "tens of thousands" to over 100,000 in Tehran, many of them bused in by the regime. At least ten anti-government protesters were arrested during the demonstrations. An angry crowd of Ahmadinejad supporters attacked Mousavi's car while shouting "Death to the hypocrite Mousavi." In other cities Basiji militiamen attacked protesters.
As he has done on previous such occasions, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused the Israeli version of the Holocaust and the claim that 'God' gave Israelis the land, once more provoking intense criticism and condemnation from Western governments in particular. He stated, "The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim." His statements drew immediate condemnation from the governments of the United States, Russia, and the European Union.
2010 Quds Day
At the 2010 Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iranian President Ahmadinejad again predicted the demise of Israel, stating, "If the leaders of the region do not have the guts, then the people of the region are capable of removing the Zionist regime from the world scene." He dismissed any Israeli military threat to Iran's nuclear program, declaring, "The Zionist regime is nothing and even its (Western) masters are too small to conduct any kind of aggression against Iran and the rights of the Iranian people." Ahmadinejad also proclaimed new peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians as "stillborn and doomed." The tens of thousands of Iranians participating in the rallies continued the regular chants of "Death to America! Death to Israel!" The day before the rallies, Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted, "Israel Is A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated."
In Quetta, Pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked Pakistani Shias holding a Quds Day rally . The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which killed at least 65 people and wounded 160. Two days earlier, on September 1, the Pakistani Taliban had targeted a Shia procession in Lahore, killing 35 in a series of three suicide bombings.
2011 Quds Day
It was held on 26 August 2011. It was the first time that Quds Day was held after Arab Spring. There were protests in support of Bahrain within Iran. Yemen, Egypt, and Bahrain also held anti-regime and anti-Zionist protests.
2012 Quds Day
On 17 August 2012, millions of Iranians commemorated al-Quds Day, where they waved Palestinian flags, chanted "Death to Israel and America," and burned Israeli and American flags. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called to destroy Israel, which he termed an "insult to all humanity" and called to remove the "Zionist black stain." Ahmadinejad said that “the Zionist regime is a tool to dominate the Middle East," as well as that world powers are “thirsty for Iranian blood.” Ahmadinejad stated that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour. Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of (Palestinian) land, in the future this story (of Israel’s existence) will repeat.” He further stated that "The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionist."
In Lebanon, Hezbollah Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech that only a few rockets fired by the group’s militia could cause massive casualties, given its well-planned target list, explaining that:
|“||“Rockets are ready and directed at these targets. We will not hesitate to use them, if we have to, at any point in time in the course of aggression against our country to protect our people...Hezbollah cannot destroy Israel but we can transform the lives of millions of Zionists in occupied Palestine into a real hell. We can change the face of Israel.”||”|
Hundreds of people turned out in Gaza to protest the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said "We are committed to the right of return and to liberation of prisoners and resistance against the occupation as long as it is on our land".
In Bahrain, dozens took part in the protests which were dispersed by security forces' tear gas.
2013 Quds Day
On 2 August 2013, while Iranians were commemorating al-Quds Day, Iranian Students News Agency reported that newly elected President Hassan Rouhani said "the Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed," although ISNA later retracted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying "Rouhani's true face has been exposed earlier than expected," and warned that despite the election of the so-called moderate, "the objective of the regime - to acquire nuclear weapons to threaten Israel, the Middle East and peace and security throughout the world - has not changed."
Outgoing Iranian President Ahmadinejad addressed Al-Quds day crowds, warning of an impending regional storm that would uproot Israel. He also said that Israel "has no place in the region."
In Toronto, Canada, a crowd of approximately 400 attended an Al-Quds Day rally. One of the speakers, Elias Hazineh, reportedly elicited cheers from the crowd when he declared an ultimatum to Israelis: “You have to leave Jerusalem. You have to leave Palestine. When somebody tries to rob a bank the police get in, they don't negotiate and we have been negotiating with them for 65 years. We say get out or you are dead! We give them two minutes and then we start shooting. And that’s the only way that they will understand.” Despite being Christian, he concluded his speech by quoting from the Koran: "And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and steeds of war - that's the only thing that they'll understand!" A video of the event, including Hazineh's speech, was later posted online. Those remarks draw swift condemnation.
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- Jumu'ah-tul-Wida, also on the last Friday in the month of Ramadan
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