Special to WorldTribune.com
One may not even go to a newspaper stand in the morning for coffee-n-donut without being shocked and annoyed at mainstream media ignorance and/or skewed propaganda posing as international news.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a non-Iranian government and has nothing to do with “Classic Iran” (the real Iran) such as the Achaemenid Persian Empire 550-330 BC (one of the most liberal and tolerant rulers of the ancient world — even in comparison to some modern countries).
Yet, on the cover of its June 22, 2013, edition, “The Economist” published a photo of the famous ancient Iranian “bull and lion struggle” based on ancient Iranian (Aryan) beliefs – better known as Zoroastrianism. The relief is from the 6th c. BC spiritual city of the Achaemenids, Persepolis, which was built not only to show the grandeur of the new empire, but also to recognize all the nations by their identity standing next to each other in harmony and cooperation. Ironically, the Cyrus Cylinder (the “first human civil rights” decree by the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, Cyrus the Great) is currently touring the U.S.
It is well-known that the ancient Persian Empire provided the first opportunity for peoples to practice their own religion and way of life without coercion from a central government.
It is also well-known that during the “Persian Period,” peoples such as the ancient Jews were able to set up Judaism as we know it today. Hence, reliefs from ancient Persian Empire based on the Iranian way of life and philosophy does not represent the Islamic regime in Teheran based on the foreign Arab Muslim Sharia Constitution of inequality and lawlessness.
It was not too long ago that American intellectuals referred to the “laws of the Persians and the Medes” as a general analogy for importance of rule of law. It was not too long ago that a 19th c. Maryland representative Mr. Archer debated for women’s rights by using the role and condition of women in the Persian Empire as something to admire and achieve – some 2400 years later!
It was not in antiquity that U.S. Founding Fathers such as the genius Benjamin Franklin asked their close friends and colleagues if they wanted a copy of the newly-translated ancient Iranian sacred text of Zend Avesta to learn more about this ancient “moral” philosophy of Zoroastrianism filled with humanism (ancient Iranians believed the heart ruled, not the mind).
The Islamic Republic of Iran which has been working on exporting its Islamism to other nations after seizing a rich country such as Iran in 1979, with support from foreign governments such as then U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s Administration without care for their own national security, is at war with Iran’s true identity and heritage.
The picture here published on June 11, 2013, by “Al Arabiya” (Photo courtesy: Iran State News Agency) notes “Iran’s eight presidential candidates … take part in a televised debate.” The debate during the recent Islamic Republic’s so-called elections in which only those men, who are the most devout Shiite Muslims and approved by a council of clergymen, may participate as candidates for president (after all, republic does not equal democracy, let alone a theocratic republic), clearly shows that on an Iranian national TV, the presidential candidates are standing under a banner written in Arabic (not Persian) with a flag displaying the Arabic word Allah in the background.
To the contrary, the bull-and-lion struggle symbol that “The Economist” chose to use while questioning the intentions of an Islamic regime in Tehran represents the ancient Iranian philosophy of Light v. Dark, Truth v. Lies, or even changes in the season as life is cyclic.
It is not representative of foreign Islamic teachings or a Sharia Constitution. Islam stems from Semitic beliefs (Assyrians, Arabs, Jews, Babylonians, etc.), not Aryan (Indo-Iranians). Therefore, to use an image from the spiritual city of the Achaemenids, Persepolis, to represent the Islamic theocracy in Tehran is either ignorant on the part of mainstream institutions, or part of a bigger plan in misrepresenting a nation’s heritage in maintaining the corrupt mullahs in power given they have been systematically destroying Iranian identity and history since 1979. “The Economist” should note that Islamism is not “Persian power.”
The world is engaged in the battle of ideas — every symbol, every word, every act has a purpose. “Classic Iran” is intertwined in so many aspects of Western Civilization in particular, that by institutions’ knowingly or unknowingly aiding and abetting its destruction and misrepresentation, they are indirectly chipping away at Western history and culture. “Classic Iran” has influenced the West’s most notables in philosophy, religion, arts, science, politics, and the like.
Contrary to mainstream notions, the West is based on Irano-Greco-Roman heritage, not Greco-Roman. Iranians have been fighting since the first Islamic invasion of 7th century and post-Arab Muslim colonization of their lands to preserve their identity, their heritage, their history, their language, and their way of life. Sometimes patriotic Iranians succeeded in getting a hold of their nation and saving it from darkness, and sometimes they lost to those in pursuit of ideologies rather than national interests.
Currently, Iran is under a radical Islamic regime following a strategic goal that is in contradiction to Iranian national interests. Iranian political policy since antiquity has always been based on secularism and peaceful coexistence with others. The Islamic Republic, on the other hand, follows an irresponsible policy that cost a nation its dignity, its security and economic interests, its place among advanced societies, its best and the brightest, and its resources. It is unethical for “The Economist” and others to make unfounded and careless symbolic gestures against the heritage of some 70 million people and one of the world’s oldest nations.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to WorldTribune.com and FreePressers.com on Iran’s Affairs.