A largely Iranian student crowd, 260-strong marked the holiest of Islamic days yesterday with yet another protest against the deposed, ailing shah, provoking angry Americans into lunchtime guerrilla was of verbal abuse through the streets of downtown Washington.
Two of the demonstrators were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
"In Islam, you cannot separate politics from religion," said Moslem Student Association spokesman Ali Soltanih, as the crowd bowed in prayer in a small park outside the state department.
"Islam is a school of thought that includes politics, religion, economics, everything."
"Nuke Iran!" shouted the seething counter-demonstrators, Towel-heads, go home!"
Many of the 150-counter-demonstrators, dogged the protesters every step of the two-mile, three-hour march from Dupont Circle to the state department and back, shouting over a human wall of police protection.
"Free the Americans!" they shouted. "Deport! Deport! Go home, you camel jockeys!"
Bill Brawner, 47, president of Brawner Co., a downtown real estate firm, lead a group of flag-waving Americans, jeering over their shoulders as they led the Moslem paraders. He wore a smartly tailored gray suit.
"It's time for businessmen in their pin-striped suits to get out here and show their support for this thing," he said. "They should join the construction workers and the secretaries and the students."
He said the American flag he and his 15 employes carried had gone unwaved since the funeral of John F. Kennedy, 16 years ago.
Brawner decided to join the counter-demonstration on the spur of the moment after learning about the planned Moslem march in the morning newspaper. He and his group lead the Moslems all the way from Dupont Circle to San Martin Park.
Brawner's group briefly draped a large American flag across the intersection at 21st and N Streets NW, at the front of the Moslem marchers, and played the Star Spangled Banner over a stereo set on the sidewalk. But the music was largely drowned out by the chanting and shouting that filled the chilly, lunchtime air.
Brawner said he'd called D.C. police to ask if he needed a permit. "The guy at the police station just said 'God bless you. I didn't hear a word you said.'"
It was precisely 13 centuries ago to the day that enemies chopped the head off the grandson of Islam's prophet Mohammad -- a bloody day that has come to symbolize, for Moslem Shiites, the essence of mourning and redemption.
The march was supposed to be a religious demonstration, but quickly turned into a political shouting match, the Americans countering every Moslem chant with an epithet of their own. It was a day of political fire.
"There is no such thing as separate religious and political acts," said Bahram Nahidian, a Georgetown rug merchant. "The two are always combined." b
There was almost one policeman for every demonstrator, 225 in all, on foot, on scooters, on horseback, in cruisers equipped with dogs and tear gas -- and they ringed the Moslems in Dupont Circle and all along the way.
"Would you arrest me if I waded through and hit one of those Iranians?" asked a college coed dressed straight from the pages of Mademoiselle.
"Well," grinned a police officer, "I might tap you on the shoulder and ask you to get back in the crowd. This ain't Texas."
But it was far more inspiring than class for eight Montgomery County students from Albert Einstein High School who decided to vent their frustrations outside the classroom and the gym.
"Eat sand!" shouted student Mike McNancy, who piled into a friend's midnight blue custom Chevy van and rode downtown with seven friends.
"Go home and make camel burgers!"
"We heard it on the radio this morning at 7:50 a.m.," said McNancy, "and decided to just convoy on down. They've got a lot of nerve coming over here and protesting in our free country, while they hold Americans prisoner in Iran. If we let them take advantage of us now, they'll do it again."
"I say take em out to the ocean and let 'em swim home," said his friend, Paul Weigand, 17.
"Yeah," said Bruce Feigenbaum, 17, "We're going over there in uniform if they blow it."
As the march left Dupont Cicle and threaded slowly down New Hampshire Avenue, onlookers jeered from the balcony of Hamilton House Terrace apartments.
Counter-demonstrators waded into stopped traffic like cheerleaders at a basketball game, waving for motorists to honk their horns. They did.
The protesters carried posters in Arabic and English that inflamed the counter-demonstrators -- ("Long Live Khomeini") ("Christians and Jews and Moslems are Brothers"), and failed to dilute the anger with placards urging harmony.
At San Martin Park, near the State Department as the Moslems knelt on the grass in prayer, and counter-demonstrators shouted obscenities, another bitter debate broke out on the sidelines of a grassy knoll.
About 20 Americans surrounded John Matson, a reporter for a communist newspaper, who was trying to defend the Iranian cause. "Don't you people remember how people got dragged off to Vietnam?" he asked. A gray-haired literary researcher, Vivian Old, became enraged and began pushing the larger Matson who eased away from the mob.