Millions of fasting demonstrators raised placards and shouted slogans with chants such as "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" to celebrate the International Al-Quds Day, which was also addressed by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

Al-Quds is a historic Arabic name for Jerusalem. Al Quds day, which was started by Imam Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to oppose Zionism and to denounce Israel's existence and its control of Jerusalem, has since been celebrated through state funding on the last Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

 Apart from being a day that has seen many anti-Semitic attacks, it has also become an important cornerstone in Iran's foreign policy and international relations. Shi'ite led Iran support Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups who oppose peace with Israel.

Addressing the nation, president Rouhani accused western powers of diverting attention from the Israel-Palestinian conflict by exploiting the differences between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

Iran has repeatedly called upon to its Sunni-led rival Saudi Arabia to improve bilateral relations. The two oil producing sides support competing factions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain and have engaged in proxy wars that has destabilised the middle east.

Relations also soured when diplomatic deadlock disallowed Iranian pilgrims from visiting Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj in September last year.

Their relations strained further this January since Riyadh's execution of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, which prompted attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia subsequently cut all ties with Iran.

Also for the first time in history, Iran-backed Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group cancelled its annual Al-Quds Day event held in Beirut's southern suburbs.

In a statement they announced that they are scrapping the commemorations due to prevailing "security situation."

The "security situation" is an allusion to the recent terror attack in the Christian village of Qaa located along the Syrian Border. Nine bombs, eight of which were detonated by suicide bombers, killed five residents.

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