Prince Reza Pahlavi says Iranians will take back their country from the forces of evil, while standing beside a newly unveiled statue of Cyrus the Great in the US.
Pahlavi made the remarks during the unveiling ceremony of a monumental statue of Cyrus the Great at the Millennium Gate in Atlanta, Georgia on October 30. The day is a national Iranian holiday to commemorate the founder of the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire, whose empire-building in the 6th century BC was marked with respect for diversity and human rights. His empire expanded from Central Asia and the eastern wing of the Persian plateau and beyond to Mediterranean shores and North Africa.
Pahlavi, the son of the last shah of Iran who was deposed by the 1979 revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, praised Cyrus as a “consequential visionary” and “a reminder of light in Iran’s history” who outlined a grand vision for humanity with equality, respect and justice for all people.
He referred to a famous address by his father Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi during the celebrations to mark 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran in 1971.
“O Cyrus [Kourosh], great King, King of Kings, Achaemenid King, King of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee salutations from myself and from my nation. Rest in peace, for we are awake, and we will always stay awake,” Mohammad-Reza Shah said.
On Sunday, his son, who has been a leading opposition figure, said, “Not only are Iranians awake but are also inspired by their forefathers to reclaim their country from the forces of darkness and rebuild it with Cyrus’s vision.
He also talked about the events of ‘Cyrus the Great Day’ at his tomb in Pasargadae in Fars Province, where Iranians gather to pay homage to Iran’s pre-Islamic history. The occasion is harshly rejected by the Islamic Republic that sees it as a relic of Iran’s monarchy.
The event sometimes morphs into protests against the regime, with people chanting nationalist slogans.
Security forces block roads to the mausoleum every year to stop people from gathering. The celebration found epic dimensions in 2016. Since 2017, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) has been deploying forces to the region and blocking all roads to Pasargadae to make sure that the celebrations were not going to happen.
But still, thousands of young men and women somehow manage to gather around the monument and sing patriotic hymns.
Pahlavi condemned the “tyrannical dictatorship” which seeks to distance Iranians from “their glorious past,” and said people who gather in Pasargadae chant, “Iran is our homeland, Cyrus is our father.”
Regional Peace And Global Prosperity
The former crown prince, who has long campaigned for a secular and democratic Iran rather than a restoration of the monarchy, reiterated that sticking to human rights values put forth by the late empire can lead to regional peace. His remarks came against the backdrop of an escalating conflict in the Middle East, ignited on October 7, when Tehran-backed Hamas Islamist militants launched a multi-thronged attack into Israel, killing over 1,400 mostly civilians and taking more than 230 hostages. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory fire.
He has time and again talked about how the collapse of the Islamic Republic and the establishment of a new government in Iran that is at peace with the world can resolve a plethora of international conflicts.
“If you seek peace in the Middle East and prosperity for humanity, do not let that be just a thing for the past, but a thing of the future,” Pahlavi said, urging the world to help the Iranian people in their uprising against the Islamic autocracy.
According to the US National Monuments Foundation, the statue of Cyrus the Great in Atlanta is dedicated to liberty, justice and peace as the values championed by the king, who, upon liberating Babylon, freed the slaves, established racial equality and rights for women, and declared that all people had the right to choose their own religion.
Based on some historical records, October 28 or 29 in 539 BC was the day when Cyrus entered Babylon after the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Achaemenid Persians in the Battle of Opis. Cyrus the Great set the Jewish people free from the Babylonian Captivity that had taken place decades before. Cyrus facilitated their return to the promised land and he became a notable figure in the Jewish scripture as a savior who helped them build the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
Pahlavi said as “Cyrus freed the Jewish people from the Babylonian slavery, Iranians want to free themselves of the enslavement of the Islamic Republic and rebuild our temple, Iran.”
He expressed confidence that Iranians will ultimately reestablish Cyrus’s legacy and “build peaceful relationships with our friends; both Israeli and Arab, across the Middle East.”
Pahlavi said the Iranian people as heirs of the country are “closer than ever” to reclaiming their homeland and returning it to its rightful place in the world.
“Iranian and Jewish people share an ancient bond of friendship that modern Islamic fanaticism has tried (and failed) to destroy. Remembering the past is a powerful perspective for shaping the future; one where diverse peoples and cultures live together in freedom and harmony,” read a statement by the US National Monuments Foundation, the body that installed the Cyrus statue in Atlanta.
Political Parties For A Democratic Iran
The end of October was action-packed for Iranians who root for a Constitutional or a Royalist Iran. Iran Novin Party (Modern Iran Party), which announced its establishment in the winter of 2023, held its first Congress in Brussels. The party takes its appellation from a party with the same title founded in Iran 1964 and controlling both Iran’s cabinet and the parliament from 1964 to 1975.
Now the party seems to have re-emerged to work against the Islamic Republic and provide a party platform for Iranian constitutional monarchists. Although exiled prince Pahlavi did not participate in the event, he sent a message that was read out loud at the opening ceremony and Pahlavi’s wife, Yasmine, delivered the keynote speech at the event.
Hamed Sheibanirad, the secretary of the party, told Iran International that Iran Novin Party has envisioned activities from three perspectives: actions towards the collapse of the Islamic Republic regime, the first 100 days after the fall or the transition period, and long-time measures after democracy is established in the country.
Nasim Behrouz, one of the organizers of the event, said this party is another opposition party in exile, and called on all such entities to unite against the Islamic Republic. Reza Ahmadi, one of the members of the party, said that Iran’s modern political ecosystem is teeming with different views of people from all walks of life, claiming that constitutionalism is the fruit of a consensus by all views represented in Iran’s political sphere. The Constitutional Revolution of Iran took place between 1905 and 1911 during the Qajar dynasty, leading to the establishment of a parliament and has been called an “epoch-making episode in the modern history of Persia”.
“With organization and structure, it is possible to contribute more effectively to the downfall of the Islamic Republic,” read part of Pahlavi’s message to the event read out by political activist Amir-Hossein Etemadi. “These are the political parties that, in the aftermath of the fall of the Islamic Republic, should be involved in shaping the country’s political and legal structures.”
Public events such as football matches, are a good touchstone to see the real public mood of Iranians. No gathering is held without people chanting slogans in admiration of the Pahlavi monarchs, who were pioneers of leading Iran to its modernization.