AS THE MOLLAHS HARDEN THEIR SPEECH AGAINST BUSH, PEOPLE SAY LONG LIVE TO USA

By Delphine Minoui

TEHRAN 13 Feb. (Le Figaro) "Death in America, death to the Great Satan!" Perched on a red truck, a mollah, white turban on the head and keffieh around the neck, scream in his loudspeaker. In the very heart of the Revolution Avenue, he is followed by about ten basiji (Moslem militiamen)... Yet the Iranian capital is maybe one of the rare large cities of the world where the "American dream" continue to have its sense".

Behind the official ceremonies, the 24th birthday of the revolution, which has just been celebrated in Iran, lost the devotion of yesteryear. While Iran hardens its speech against the United States; the Iranians are the first consumers of American culture.

One among them waves proudly a headless puppet of Uncle Sam. "Our parents gave their blood to fight the Shah, who was a subject of the American imperialism. We are not going to be recovered by the United States", he says.

Iran, classified in the «axe of evil" and accused to produce weapons of mass destruction, could really be the next country on the list of George W. Bush, after Iraq. The announcement, Sunday, by President Khatami, of the uranium discovery in the centre of the country, and the construction of two new factories, in Esfahan and Kashan, destined to the production of fuel for nuclear plants, didn't miss to reinforce American grumbles.

"We continue to have great concern on the fact that Iran uses its so-called pacific nuclear program, including the construction of the Booshehr nuclear reactor, to develop a program of nuclear arms", declared the spokesman of the State Department, Richard Boucher.

But in a recent speech to the big Friday prayer, former president Rafsanjani didn't hesitate to show that the Iranian conservatives would not submit to the goodwill of the United States, concerning the present Iraqi crisis: "We consider that the American presence in our region is more dangerous than the possession of massive destruction weapons by Saddam Hussein", he declared at random.

This year, the anti-American slogans, more than ever, marked the ceremonies commemorating the fall of the Shah and the installation of the Islamic Republic. From the distribution of tracts caricaturing the "Great Satan" to the special broadcasts by the radio, the Iranian authorities didn't make the things half.

Last month, the publication of the book of Ma’soumeh Ebtekar on hostage's hold at the American embassy in November 1979 recalled the long history of the rupture of the diplomatic relations with America. In last September, the Iranian conservative justice also marked the occasion by arresting members of a poll institute whose investigation revealed that three quarters of the Iranians were favourable to a resumption of the negotiations with the United States.

Difficult yet to hide a very crying reality, in a country where everybody brags about to have a cousin in the United States. The Iranian capital is maybe one of the rare cities of the world where the "American dream" has its sense again. Especially by the new generation, these famous "children of the revolution", who represent more than 60% of the population, and that don't recognise themselves in the revolutionary values. Music, clothes, objects of decoration. Everything that is marked "made in USA" is welcomed as the blessed bread.

The revolutionary cortege of Tuesday, started from the place of the Revolution to join the avenue of the same name, is the best illustration of it. To some meters of the truck of the young mollah, the small street sellers made echo while selling their cans of… Coca-Cola. The Iranians made of this soda their daily beverage. If the thousands of faithful hurried, the day before yesterday, as every year, toward the Azadi Place, the streets of Tehran were never been as empty. Most Iranians of the capital benefited of the revolutionary vacations to escape on the paths of hike, along the mountains that surround Tehran.

The luckiest chose the Dubai option. At one o'clock by plane of Tehran, this small Los Angeles in the middle of the desert of the United Arab Emirates became the most prised destination the young Iranians connected to the jet set society. For this week, all airline companies display complete on this route. Most of them had yet doubled their flights.

Twenty-four years after the revolution, the weariness of the Iranians facing a regime that doesn't succeed in satisfying their aspirations finally finds excessively its echo in the consumption of everything that comes from the United States.

For proof: the success of the Internet, but also of the TV channels by satellite belonging to the Iranian Diaspora, exiled in California. To the call of them, hundreds of Iranians (especially women and the young) had assembled on three occasions, carrying candles, on a place to the north of Tehran, after the 11 September attack, to bring their support to the Americans. ENDS LONG LIVE USA 14203

Editor’s note: The French centrist daily "Le Figaro" published this report on its 13 February issue.

Highlights and some phonetisation of names are by IPS