President Ali Kha-menei told a huge outdoor rally celebrating the 10-year-old revolution Saturday that Iran's leaders are disagreeing but remain committed to their "revolutionary ideas."
"This is natural all over the world, but there are no disagreements over the basic policy and objectives of the revolution," Khamenei said in an address to a crowded square from a platform draped in blue and green. "Our revolutionary ideas have not changed."Hard-liners and moderates in the regime are battling over how far Iran should develop relations with the outside world after years of self-imposed isolation.
Khamenei said Iran is willing to cooperate with any country to help rebuild the economy battered in an eight-year war with Iraq, as long as the country giving the aid "doesn't try to dominate us."
According to police, between 3 million and 4 million people attended the rally, climaxing 10 days of celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the overthrow of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and founding of an Islamic state by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
A 10-story high portrait of Khomeini suspended from a crane overlooked the square, but the 88-year-old revolutionary patriarch, now in frail health, was not present. He rarely leaves his Tehran residence.
Three choirs of children, wearing headbands saying "happy and blessed is the next decade," sang the national anthem. A squadron of military helicopters dropped leaflets calling for unity in the the post-war reconstruction.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported the crowd included 230 political prisoners freed Saturday under a general amnesty. It said most were released from Tehran's Evin Jail, where they were being held under sentence of death or life imprisonment. The agency did not say for what offenses the prisoners were jailed.
Security at the rally was tight, with guards armed with automatic weapons patrolling and searching foreign reporters.
"After coming through hardships and battles today we feel much stronger," said Khamenei, despite what he called "plotting by world oppressor powers" _ a reference to the United States. He said Iran wants friendly ties with all countries, except the United States and Israel.
The crowd listened quietly but shouted "Death to America" in English and waved clenched fists when official cheerleader Ali Montazadi led chanting in a booming baritone.
As snow started falling at the end of the rally, Montazadi, known to Iranians as "minister of slogans," started a new chant of "Islam is best."
Many attending traveled through the night for final events of the celebrations.
"This is a big day for Iran and we want to show the Imam (Khomeini) our love and support for the revolution," explained Mohammad Isfahani, a white-bearded man who said he lost two sons in the Iran-Iraq war. "No sacrifice is enough in serving God," he said.
Officials said similar rallies were being held across the country to commemorate the overthrow of the 2,500-year-old monarchy.