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Iranians Support President's Anti-Israel Remarks

Thousands of Iranians on Friday took to the street to protest against Israel, while President Mohmoud Ahmadinejad defended his remarks that Israel should be wiped off as just and right.

The demonstrators, chanting anti-Israel and anti-US slogans and holding banners, rallied in big cities such as the capital Tehran and Qom on the occasion of the Quds (Jerusalem) Day designated by Ruholla Khomeini, late founding father of the Islamic Republic, to boost the Islamic world's unification on the support to Palestine.

Among demonstrators in Tehran were Ahmadinejad and other ranking officials including Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani.

State media reported that several Iranian embassies abroad also issued separate statements to express their supports for the demonstrators at home, calling on all Muslims in the world to observe the Quds Day and protest against Israel.

The high-profiled nationwide protest was underlaid by the country's anti-Israeli spirit fueled by Ahmadinejad's hardline comments on Wednesday that Israel "should be wiped away from the map" and the recognition of Israel was "surrender and defeat of Islamic world".

The hardline message, which sounded unusually tough against the somewhat softened stances of Iranian officials in recent years, has drawn immediate and hard-worded denouncement of the European Union, the United States, Japan, Russia as well as several other countries.

Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also said on Thursday that he was dismayed by Ahmadinejad's words.

Soon after the Quds Day demonstrations, Ahmadinejad defended his anti-Israel remarks as just and right, saying that his words "are the same as those of the Iranian nation".

In an exclusive interview with the official IRNA news agency, Ahmadinejad slammed the Israeli policy as ambitious, saying "they (the Israelis) are free to say but their words lack any credit.

They are rude, falsely thinking that the whole world should be subordinate to them."

"The oppressed Palestinians are martyred by Zionists, their properties are looted, their houses are bombarded and they are assassinated, but the Zionists expect that no one should object them," Ahmadinejad stressed.

Later in the day, Rafsanjani, who took the turn of leading the Friday prayer in Tehran, warned in his sermon that Israel was "fuelling the flames of Islamic resistance in Palestine and throughout world".

Rafsanjani praised the Palestinians as the most oppressed people who survived "numerous conspiracies" of Israel and tolerated massive pressure, saying that brave resistance of the Palestinians was also the "cornerstone of great movements of the Islamic world".

However, Rafsanjani focused his bombardment on the Israeli government, stressing that the main concern of Tehran was "the existence of the Zionist regime" and Iranians indeed respected and had no problems with "the pious and real Jews".

Iran holds a sympathetic attitude towards the fight for independence of the Palestinians and refuses to acknowledge the Israeli state, terming the Israeli government as enemy of the whole Islamic world.

(Xinhua News Agency October 29, 2005)

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