Iran: A Clash of Religion and Nationalism
by Amir Taheri
Asharq Al-Awsat (pan-Arab newspaper), 22-3-2013
Under the Pahlavi shahs who promoted a nationalist narrative, the adjective “Islamic” was quietly set aside in favor of “Iranian”. Official discourse presented “Iranian” as synonymous with excellent and sublime.Having seized power in 1979, the mullahs were uneasy about the words Iran and Iranian from the start. …
The Khomeinist sect tried to scrap Nowruz, the Iranian New Year and, for years, banned pre-Islamic Iranian names for new-born children. Khomeinists insisted on attaching the adjective “Islamic” to everything under the sun. Thus, we got “Islamic” physics, biology, mathematics, cuisine, and, more interestingly, even music and cinema…
The mullahs’ leftist allies shared their hatred of “Iran” because they, too, saw nationalism as an ideological threat. To Marxists, people should not be defined by national background but by class affiliation.
However, just as the downgrading of the adjective Islamic under the Shahs did not script Islam out of Iranian life, the mullahs and Marxists hatred for the very concept of Iran has failed…
Starting a couple of years ago, Ahmadinejad started talking of Iran and Iranian-ness. The famous “Cyrus Cylinder”, on which the founder of the first Iranian empire had engraved his “Charter of Human Rights”, was brought to Tehran on loan from the British Museum in London. Ahmadinejad and a guard of honor went to welcome the “cylinder”. The president described Cyrus as “equal to Prophets”.
Last week, the government announced it was organizing 2,500 feasts across the country to mark Nowruz. The figure 2,500 recalled festivities organized under the Shah in 1971 to mark the 25th centenary of the empire founded by Cyrus.
To hammer in the nationalist theme, the planned festivities are called “The Voice of Spring” a reference to Iran’s pre-Islamic cult of, the Goddess of Fertility.
In a surprising volte-face Khamenei announced the creation of something called an “Islamic-Iranian” model of civilization, as “an alternative to Western civilization.”
Khamenei’s implicit message is: Since the adjective “Iranian” cannot be discarded, what about giving it second place to the adjective “Islamic”?
Anahita: Patroness of women
Anahita is an ancient Persian Moon Goddess who was associated with water, fertility and war, as well as being the patroness of women.
With her name meaning “the immaculate one”, Anahita was often portrayed as a virgin (not belonging by any man), wearing a golden cloak and a diamond tiara. She was also known as Lady of the Lions, or Lady of the Beasts. She is associated with rivers and lakes, the waters of birth, and as such was also depicted carrying a water pitcher.
Anahita is described by the Zorastorians as an exceptionally tall and strong Goddess. She was the Divine energy for good that was believed to flow through the kings of Iran, and She protected them from their Northern invaders.
“O enemy, if you are of stone, I am of steel
May my life be sacrificed
for the pure soil of my motherland..” (Ey Iran)
Since ahmadinejad nationalism and populism is again all over Iranian State and religion is losing more and more ground. (Iranian population themself wants this, in all of its history Iran was always a secular state).
Since the overthrow of Shah Ahmadinejad is the first President to Call Cyrus the Great father of Iranian Nation. He was the first president since the revolution to visit Persepolis and declaring his love for Pre-Islamic Iran. Even iranian state tv is now full of nationalism, more and more you see iranian TV using the old iranian anthem ‘Ey Iran’.
Ey Iran (O Iran) is a famous and popular anthem in Iran. The lyrics were written by Hossein Gol-e-Golab in 1946.
Ahmadinejad’s ‘spring’ infuriates Iranian establishment
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian 13-3-2013
Ahmadinejad’s critics believe the president is pursuing a Putin/Medvedev-style reshuffle by grooming his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his possible successor.
Mashaei, a confidant of Ahmadinejad and his relative, is accused of advocating nationalism, greater cultural openness and attempting to undermine clerical rule. Opponents say that Mashaei is the head of a “deviant current” within the president’s inner circle and he has little respect for the supreme leader, although he denies it. …
Last week, in a ceremony held before Nowruz, Ahmadinejad awarded Mashaei the country’s highest cultural medal. Both men were recorded as using spring in their speeches.
Anahita’s themes are spring, relationships, equality, fertility and sexuality. Her symbols are green branches and water. This Goddess of fertility embraces the attributes of fruitful, warm waters that flow from the celestial realms into our lives, especially as the earth is renewed… (Journey to the Goddess)
Ahmadinejad hails Cyrus Cylinder
Press TV Sep 12, 2010
Ahmadinejad said the Cyrus Cylinder has been an invaluable yardstick to evaluate the performance of politicians and rulers throughout history.
“One of the principles stipulated in the historical piece is that it repudiates war as a means to sustain one’s rule.” “The Cylinder reads that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and choice and all individuals should pay respect to one another.”
“The historical charter also underscores the necessity of fighting oppression, defending the oppressed, respecting human dignity, and recognizing human rights,” the president continued.
Ahmadinejad emphasized that the Cyrus Cylinder bears testimony to the fact that the Iranian nation has always been the flag-bearer of justice, devotion and human values throughout history.
“Talking about Iran is not talking about a geographical entity or race,” Ahmadinejad said, adding, “Talking about Iran is tantamount to talking about culture, human values, justice, love and sacrifice.”