It’s time to celebrate Cyrus the Great’s Day (October 29) in an official state ceremony, Shiraz’s MP has reminded the culture and Islamic guidance minister in a letter.
The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) published a copy of the letter of reformist MP Bahram Parsaei to the minister.
Parsaei, in his letter to Abbas Salehi, urged him to prepare a plan for celebrating Cyrus’ international day, in an official state ceremony to present Iranian civilization and culture to the whole world.
Though not yet registered in official calendars, October 29 has long been designated as the international day of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, who is widely believed to be the first defender of human rights in the history of mankind. His human rights charter, based on Cyrus’ orders, is inscribed on a clay cylinder currently kept at the British Museum.
On October 29, in 539 BC, Persian troops commanded by Cyrus the Great entered the city of Babylon (about 50 miles south of modern Baghdad) without encountering any resistance.
The king’s first order in Babylon was to release thousands of captives including people of Jewish descent. Cyrus allowed all slaves and captives to return home, rebuild their communities, and re-establish their religious practices or accompany him as free men to Iran.
While many Jews returned to their homes, an unknown number of them followed Cyrus back to Iran, where they settled in places such as Shiraz and Esfahan.
“Cyrus is the founder of human rights and one of the glories of our history and civilization that Iranians, even the whole world should be proud of,” Parsaei wrote.
October 29, he said, “has been designated as a day to commemorate Cyrus the Great and give us the chance for having national unity, attract tourists, and introduce the rich and affluent culture of our land.”
Parsaei pointed out to the minister that “since there has been no official planning or management” for exploiting the potential of Cyrus the Great’s Day, “it has been used by a few profiteering individuals” and forced security agents “to confront a number of people and the youth who have no relation with the opportunist elements.”
Parsaei also insisted that official state ceremonies on Cyrus the Great’s international day would be compatible with what Iran’s supreme leader has branded as a Resistance Economy.
Meanwhile, the letter called upon the minister to coordinate governmental institutions to celebrate Cyrus the Great’s Day in a way to attract tourists and introduce Iranian culture.
The official ceremony, Parsaei suggested, “should be held in a safe and secure manner without creating an atmosphere of a police state.”
A copy of the letter was sent to the Intelligence and Interior ministries, the justice department, the National Heritage Organization, and the governor-general of Fars Province, ISNA reported.
The letter of Shiraz’s MP is published at a time that the echoes of last year’s gathering at Pasargadae, where Cyrus’ mausoleum is located, have not yet died down.
Last year, on Cyrus the Great’s Day, tens of thousands of Iranians assembled at Pasargadae to pay homage to the great king and founder of the Persian Empire. The gathering soon turned into a demonstration against the ruling system and many people were arrested.
Protesters reportedly chanted, "Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father," “Clerical rule is synonymous with only tyranny, only war,” and “Freedom of thought cannot take place with beards,” an explicit reference to the theocratic leaders currently in power.
Furthermore, referring to Prince Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the throne of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, many people chanted, “Happy Birthday, Prince.”
Pahlavi, 56, who lives in exile in the United States, was born on October 31 in Tehran, and his other given name is Cyrus.
The exiled prince on his Facebook account described the slogans chanted in his favor at Pasargadae as “My best birthday present, ever.”
A day after the gathering, Shiraz-based prosecutor Ali Saleh announced, “The main leaders and organizers of this gathering who chanted unconventional slogans against Iran’s values have been arrested.”
According to Reuters, there was no indication as to how many of the event’s organizers were arrested. However, a judiciary official reportedly said Iran’s intelligence and security forces had placed the organizers of the event under close surveillance and that they would face prosecution.
Prior to the fervent gathering, forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other Iranian security authorities attempted to neutralize the impending demonstration by circulating rumors that officials had completely shut down the city, canceling tours to the site, blocking roads to Pasargadae, and shutting down the Internet.
Those actions did not deter protesters, who consisted mostly of youth and individuals under the age of 35, from carrying out their rally.
However, Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamadani, one of the Shi’ite sources of emulation, joined the conservatives’ chorus to condemn the gathering at Pasargadae.
Fars News Agency reportedly quoted Hamadani as saying, “These people are against the revolution. I wonder how they can gather around Cyrus’ tomb and chant the same slogans (about Cyrus) that we chant about our supreme leader.”
Pahlavi linked his reign to Cyrus the Great, which is a major point of contention for clerics who attempt to diminish the pre-Islamic glory of Cyrus’s Persian Empire, which had Zoroastrianism at its core.