Thousands of Iranians packed the golden-tombed shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Saturday to mark the 13th anniversary of his triumphant return from exile and the rise of the Islamic republic.
Tehran television showed the inside of the glittering, chandeliered tomb packed with celebrants crouched on plush Persian carpets, chanting "Death to America!" - the incantation that Khomeini made a bedrock of his Islamic revolution.The Islamic Republic News Agency said the crowd at the vast Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, 10 miles south of Tehran, was led by Khomeini's son, Ahmad, and attracted people from "all walks of life."
At the same moment Saturday that Khomeini's chartered Air France Jumbo jet touched down in Tehran 13 years ago, army helicopters flew over the cemetery, where Khomeini made his first speech to the Iranian people, the television said.
IRNA said celebrants clogged the streets for several miles around the cemetery.
But television footage showed crowds only inside the tomb, indicating there may have been a far lower turnout than the millions of chanting mourners who have thronged the tomb since Khomeini died nearly three years ago.
An estimated 8 million Iranians, pounding themselves with grief, took to the streets when Khomeini died of cancer June 3, 1989 at age 86.