January 13, 2009 / 4:03 PM / 9 years ago

Iranian protesters back Gaza and burn Obama picture

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Dozens of Iranians burnt posters of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Tehran on Tuesday and waved Palestinian flags in support of Gaza, according to a witness and photographs.

Iranian demonstrators have often burnt effigies or pictures of U.S. presidents in protests. This appeared to be the first time Obama’s picture had been defaced so publicly, a week before his inauguration as president.

Iran has condemned the West, and the United States in particular, for not doing more to stop Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The 18-day-old offensive, which Israel says is to stop rockets being fired at it, has killed more than 900 Palestinians.

“Where are the freedom seekers?” read one poster held up by a demonstrator at Tuesday’s protest. It had the word “Gaza” emblazoned on it and an image of a weeping Palestinian.

The demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags, some chanting “Death to Obama,” had gathered outside the Swiss embassy which handles U.S. interests because Tehran and Washington have not had diplomatic ties for nearly three decades.

Pictures obtained by Reuters showed the president-elect’s image laid on the road for cars to drive over it, and other images showed demonstrators burning the Obama poster.

In other recent protests against Israel’s Gaza offensive, demonstrators have climbed into a British diplomatic compound and gathered outside the missions of Jordan and Egypt, which have peace treaties with Israel, to condemn what they see as the inadequate international response.

Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Tim Pearce

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