Iran’s annual Quds Day rallies are “unlikely” to be held this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the spokesman of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ramezan Sharif said on Sunday.
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Al-Quds is the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem, and the IRGC’s external operations branch is named the Quds Force in reference to their apparent goal of “liberating” the city.
Quds Day was launched by former supreme leader and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and is held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Normally, state-sponsored marches are held across Iran on Quds Day, but this year it appears they might not take place as the country continues to suffer from the coronavirus outbreak.
“It will most likely not be possible to hold a Quds Day march in Tehran this year,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported Sharif as saying.
Sharif dismissed the idea of holding rallies in “white areas” in the country, saying if the march is cancelled in Tehran, it will be cancelled altogether.
Authorities in Iran have divided the country’s provinces into white, yellow and red areas, depending on the severity of the coronavirus crisis. White areas are deemed “low-risk.”
“If this march is held in some cities only, it would bring more harm, as the foreign media looks at Tehran to assess the success of the Quds Day march,” said Sharif.
“Given the coronavirus situation in Tehran, it is unlikely that it will be possible to hold a march in Tehran,” he said.
The capital Tehran is one of the worst-hit provinces by coronavirus in Iran.
Sharif suggested celebrating Quds Day online instead.
“Quds Day can be celebrated nationally and internationally through other ways … we can make good use of cyberspace in this regard.”
Marches on Quds Day traditionally feature demonstrators chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America” and burning the flags of the two countries. The crowds also sometimes insult the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia during marches.
Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinian cause.