Iran's 'Death to America' is on its way out, but what has it actually looked like?

Published August 30th, 2015 - 09:33 GMT
Years of the slogan might soon be coming to and end, but it doesn't mean what you think it means for most Iranians. (AFP/File)
Years of the slogan might soon be coming to and end, but it doesn't mean what you think it means for most Iranians. (AFP/File)

It's hard to talk about the last 35 years of Iranian-American relations without mentioning the very visible tension wrapped up inside Tehran's long tradition of 'Death to America.’ But that might soon be changing.

Last week, Iranian Colonel Brat Zada  announced officials would be removing signage involving the slogan, and imams would stop using it in mosque chants. 

Painted across billboards and sung out by fist-pumping street protesters across the country, the slogan rose to popularity following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Now that the Islamic Republic is intwined in a landmark nuclear agreement with the US and world powers, the term's been held up by American critics of the deal as a clearcut sign the country and its people are not to be trusted.

But for most Iranians, the term doesn't mean much more than 'God Bless America' means to most Americans. 

As Iranian journalist Nazila Fathi explained earlier this month, the US is only the last 'death to' in a lengthier list she remembers robotically chanting in elementary school: "Death to Iraq, death to Israel, death to Britain, death to Russia, death to France, death to Germany, death to America." 

Then Tehran made peace with Russia and Iraq and smoothed relations with several European countries. Only death to Israel and America remained. 

Fathi says the term has historically been used most often in government-staged protests. To the people of Iran, it's like saying the pledge of allegiance. 

As it’s finally laid to rest, here’s a selection of the photos of the slogan that's come — perhaps unfairly — to define Iranians to the rest of the world. 

By Alisa Reznick

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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