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Iran Security Forces Blocking Roads To Prevent Cyrus Day Gathering

A gathering of an estimated 15,000 people at Pasargadae in 2016, on Cyrus Day. File photo

Security forces in Iran have closed major routes leading to historic Pasargadae, the site of Cyrus the Great’s tomb in anticipation of spontaneous gatherings of people to mark the annual commemoration of the first king of ancient Persian Empire.

In recent years as thousands of people have tried to visit the ancient tomb, security forces have closed roads and established a strong presence to deter people.

In 2016, a large crowd spontaneously congregated around the mausoleum and chanted slogans in support of monarchy and national values versus religious government. In subsequent years authorities tried to prevent a gathering.

In 2016, protesters reportedly chanted, "Iran is our homeland; Cyrus is our father," and “Clerical rule is synonymous with only tyranny, only war,” and “Freedom of thought cannot take place with beards,” an explicit reference to the theocratic rulers currently in power.

Videos published on social media show security forces are closing roads leading to Pasargadae this year also. October 29 is regarded as the day when Cyrus the great conquered Babylon in 539 BC, establishing the Achaemenid Empire and is marked as Cyrus the Great Day.

In 2017, a member of parliament from the region urged authorities to mark the Cyrus Day in official ceremonies, boosting tourism instead of preventing it.

But senior clerics and particularly allies of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei oppose paying any homage to Iran’s kings and its pre-Islamic history.