‘Cyrus the Great’ enters Iranian politics
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad correctly picked up on this sentiment among Iranians and gradually moved away from his radically conservative views toward more nationalistic tendencies. In an unprecedented statement, originating from his close friend and adviser Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, he even called Cyrus’ actions a continuation of the conduct of divine prophets. The statement was strongly criticized by fellow conservatives and those who had previously supported him. Ahmadinejad’s September 2010 unveiling of the exhibition of the famed Cyrus Cylinder, which was on a four-month loan to the National Museum of Iran — the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution — was met with criticism, too. Mashaei was notably also present at the opening ceremony. However, both Ahmadinejad and Mashaei faced a public that did not trust the sincerity of their supposed respect for Cyrus and Iran’s ancient legacy. Indeed, many Iranians interpreted these measures as political maneuvering, leaving Ahmadinejad and Mashaei with little success in their endeavor.
Nonetheless, in a new development, ordinary Iranians have in recent years flocked in an unprecedented manner to the Tomb of Cyrus in Pasargadae on Oct. 29, which has become known as the International Day of Cyrus the Great. Based on some historical records, it is the date when the Achaemenid king entered Babylon. Pasargadae is located to the north of Persepolis in the southern province of Fars. Apart from the Tomb of Cyrus, its main attractions include the Audience Hall, the Gate Palace and the Toll-i Takht fortification.
Tens of thousands of Iranians, from various parts of the nation, gathered at the site of the tomb of King Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae Friday morning on the anniversary of his birthday to protest the clerical regime’s policies.
According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), protesters chanted, “Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father” and “clerical rule is synonymous with only tyranny, only war.” The protesters also reportedly chanted, “freedom of thought cannot take place with beards,” a reference to the theocratic leaders currently in power.