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Ahwazi rally for Eid ul-Fitr

London's Ahwaz Arab community celebrated Eid ul-Fitr on Saturday, with food, traditional music and speeches on the Ahwazi movement.

The Eid celebration was organised by the Ahwaz Community Association (ACA) and was attended by people of all faiths - an indication of the community's inclusive and tolerant nature.

ACA committee members spoke of the organisation's achievements over the past year, which has seen a greater emphasis on Ahwazi women.

Up to five million Ahwazi Arabs live in and around Al-Ahwaz, which was renamed Khuzestan after it was overrun by troops belonging to the Iranian dictator Reza Pahlavi in 1925 and its Arab ruler deposed. Since then, Ahwazi Arabs have faced racial discrimination and rising levels of poverty despite their homeland's position as one of the world's most oil-rich regions.

Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, has become a day when Ahwazi Arabs demonstrate their opposition to the Iranian regime. This year Ahwazi Arab youths defied the Iranian security forces and used Eid to call for Arab minority rights in protests across Ahwaz. Peaceful demonstrations were reportedly larger than last year's Eid demonstrations, when two Ahwazi Arab youths died when 3,000 Arabs attempted to march peacefully to the centre of Ahwaz City (click here for further details). Youths gathered in the Hay Al-Thurah (Dairah) district of Ahwaz City after Eid prayers, where the Ahwazi Intifada began in April 2005. The demonstrators chanted anti-regime slogans and called for the release of political prisoners and an end to state violence. Some carried Ahwazi flags or painted their hands with the colours of the Ahwazi flag (click here for further details).

The UK has a 3,000 strong Ahwazi Arab population, which is the largest expatriate community outside the Middle East. Many Ahwazi Arabs have come to the UK seeking political asylum having faced violent persecution under the Iranian regime. The ACA is the main contact point for the community, providing social activities and support.