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Anti-U.S. murals of drone and Mickey Mouse mark 1979 Tehran embassy takeover

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran on Saturday unveiled new murals at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran ahead of the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the mission by hardline Islamist students, depicting what state media said was Washington’s weakened power.

Iran is due to mark the takeover of what it calls the “den of spies” after the 1979 Islamic revolution with state-sponsored rallies on Nov. 4, as it does every year.

The students stormed the embassy soon after the fall of the U.S.-backed shah, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two countries have been enemies ever since.

Anger towards the United States was especially fervent at the anniversary rallies last year following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

Strains between the two countries have deepened after attacks on tankers in the Gulf that the United States blames on Tehran, and Iran’s downing of a U.S. military drone that prompted preparations for a retaliatory air strike that Trump says he called off at the last minute.

State media said the murals were produced along themes such as “The Decline of America and the West” and “America’s crime around the World and in Iran”.

They replace ones done over the years on the walls of the mission, which is partly now a museum. The works were revealed at a ceremony by the elite Revolutionary Guards’ commander-in-chief, Hossein Salami.

One of the 16 works, including 14 murals, showed bats surrounding a U.S. Global Hawk drone, shot down in June by Iran which said it was on a spying mission over its territory.

Another mural, images on Iranian news agencies showed, featured a figure resembling Mickey Mouse holding a smoking gun.

A third showed a doctored U.S. presidential seal with an added Star of David — in an apparent reference to Washington’s close ties with Iran’s arch-enemy Israel — and showing an eagle holding drug syringes and bombs. Another showed a gun with a bent barrel.

Behnam Amini, who heads the museum at the embassy, was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying the volunteer Basij paramilitary group had recruited artists “committed to the Islamic Revolution” to draw the new murals.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams)

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