Iranian parade mocks American captives

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Iranians dressed up as US sailors marched through the streets of one city to mock Americans on the anniversary of the country’s revolution – but some Iranians criticised the demonstration.

Every year Iranians mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution with parades and celebrations which often include flag-burning and anti-Western chants. This year in the conservative religious city of Qom the organisers of a local parade took those sentiments one step further – with locals dressing up to mock American sailors.

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The display, which included men wearing camouflage and bound by plastic chains, was a reference to the detention of 10 American sailors in mid-January. That incident caused a diplomatic ripple amid continuing negotiations around Iran’s nuclear programme, and the sailors were swiftly released.

Photos of Thursday’s parade in Qom were published on state media outlets and widely shared online. One of the fake sailors appeared to be a man dressed as a woman (one of the Americans captured was a woman). Another covered his face with a tissue as if he was crying – a reference to video recently broadcast on Iranian TV which seemed to show one of the Americans weeping.

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The anniversary celebrations are called “Ten Days of Dawn” and culminate in street celebrations, with participants made up largely of ardent supporters of Iran’s hardline establishment. The Qom photos showed a jubilant crowd, but some Iranians online criticised the parade, calling it “bizarre” and a “circus”. Twitter and Facebook are banned inside Iran, so the reaction, while critical, probably isn’t broadly representative of views inside the country.

“What a cheap, ugly and ridiculous move!” one Iranian said on Twitter. “What are they trying to prove by this ridiculous show,” one user added on Facebook. “Even if Iran and America are at war against each other, which they are not, what kind of messages are these kinds of cheap acts trying to convey to the American people, who like us, love their soldiers?”

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The US sailors were released soon after their capture in January

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