|Observed by||Iran, and other countries and communities|
|Significance||Demonstrations against Zionism, the government of Israel and its occupation of Jerusalem; solidarity with the Palestinian people|
|Begins||Last Friday of Ramadan|
|2021 date||May 7|
|Related to||Iranian Revolution|
Quds Day (Jerusalem Day; Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem), officially called International Quds Day (Persian: ), is an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan that was initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel. Nominally, it exists in opposition to the Jerusalem Day celebration instituted by Israel in May 1968, and which Knesset law changed into a national holiday in 1998.
Quds Day is also held in several other countries, mainly in the Arab and Muslim world, with protests against Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem. Rallies are held in various cities by both Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the world.
Critics of Quds Day argue that it is inherently anti-semitic. Quds Day events in Iran also feature demonstrations against other rivals of Iran, including the United States and Saudi Arabia.
An annual anti-Zionist day of protest was first suggested by Ebrahim Yazdi, the first foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini. The context was one of deepening tensions between Israel and Lebanon at the time. Khomeini adopted Yazdi's idea, and on August 7, 1979, he declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan each year as Quds Day, in which Muslims worldwide would unite in solidarity against Israel and in support of the Palestinians. Khomeini declared the "liberation" of Jerusalem a religious duty to all Muslims. That day, he stated:
I invite Muslims all over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the legitimate rights of the Muslim people of Palestine. For many years, I have been notifying the Muslims of the danger posed by the usurper Israel which today has intensified its savage attacks against the Palestinian brothers and sisters, and which, in the south of Lebanon in particular, is continually bombing Palestinian homes in the hope of crushing the Palestinian struggle. I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join together to sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters. I call on all the Muslims of the world to select as Al-Quds Day the last Friday in the holy month of Ramadan--which is itself a determining period and can also be the determiner of the Palestinian people's fate--and through a ceremony demonstrating the solidarity of Muslims world-wide, announce their support for the legitimate rights of the Muslim people. I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels.
There have been recorded incidents of violence on Quds Day, including 28 people killed and 326 wounded by bombs in 1985 during the Iran-Iraq War. Iran celebrates the event characteristically by putting on public display poster images of the city of Jerusalem, thematic speeches, art exhibitions reflecting the issue, and folkloric events. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah organization marks the occasion by a substantive military parade organized for the last week of Ramadan. Since 1989, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan observes the event by hosting academic conferences, whose venue from university to university varies each year. Arab societies generally pay the occasion lip service in order to make a show of solidarity with the cause of Palestinian aspirations for nationhood.
According to the Gatestone Institute, Quds Day has become a day for protestors in Iran and in other societies "to attack the legitimacy of the state of Israel and threaten the United States". The day is also marked throughout Muslim and Arab countries. During the First Intifada in January 1988, the Jerusalem Committee of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference decided that Quds Day should be commemorated in public events throughout the Arab world. In countries with significant Shi'a populations, particularly Lebanon, where Hezbollah organizes Quds Day observances, there is significant attendance at the day's events. Events are also held in Iraq, the Palestinian Gaza Strip, and Syria. Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine endorse Quds Day, and hold ceremonies. Outside of the Middle East and the wider Arab World, Quds Day protests have taken place in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, the United States, as well as some predominantly Muslim countries in east Asia. According to the BBC, while the idea behind Quds Day originally was to gather all Muslims in opposition to the existence of Israel, the event has not developed beyond an Iranian experience. Apart from rallies, usually funded and organized by Iran itself, in various capital cities, the ritual never took root among Muslims at large.
In Iran, the day's parades are sponsored and organized by the government. Events include mass marches and rallies. Senior Iranian leaders give fiery speeches condemning Israel, as well as the U.S. government. The crowds respond with chants of "Death to Israel", and "Death to America". According to Roger Howard, many Iranians under the age of 30 continue to participate in Quds Day events, though proportionately less than those on the streets. He adds that many Iranian students on campus say in private that the Arab-Israeli conflict has "nothing to do with us."
Quds Day protests have been held in parts of the Middle East and in London and Berlin and the United States. Marches in London have drawn up to 3,000 people, while Berlin saw 1,600 protestors in 2018. Rallies were held in at least 18 cities across the United States in 2017.
Many Muslims commemorate Al Quds Day by protesting against the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem where the Al Quds mosque is located
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied in cities across the country to protest against Israel's occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem.