Sunday, September 26, 2010

Persian Jews welcome return of Cyrus cylinder

Cyrus the Great liberated the Hebrews from the Babylonian captivity so they could resettle and rebuild Jerusalem (CAIS)

The authorities in Iran may have underestimated the subversive effect the Cyrus cylinder, which they fought so hard to get back on loan from the UK, would have on ordinary Iranians. For Jews, it carries an unashamedly Zionist message. Brokhim Davidian reports for the London-based Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies:

LONDON, (CAIS) -- The Cyrus Cylinder loaned by the British Museum to Iran and currently on show at the National Museum in Tehran has attracted attention nationally and internationally and has excited all Iranians including the small community of the Iranian Jews.

The Cyrus Cylinder signifies humanity and kindness and it is considered by many scholars to be the world’s first declaration of human rights issued by the ancient Iranian emperor, Cyrus the Great in 6th century BCE.

Amongst Iranians the most excited for the return of the Cyrus Cylinder being home after forty years, is the small Jewish community. The Iranian Jewish population better known as ‘Persian Jews’, constitute the largest among the Islamic countries.

A Tehran Rabbi excitingly stating: “it is wonderful and I’m much exited to see that the Cylinder is home – in fact I am doubley exited, as an Iranian as well as a Jew.”

He continued: “the Cylinder is a Persian artefact, but its contents concerns the history of Jewish people as much as Iranians, which echoes the past and is the voice of our ancestors – it tells us about the history of my ancestors, the Hebrews who were liberated by the ‘anointed of God’ from Babylonian captivity and their return to the holy land. It is the history of my forefathers who stayed behind and who had chosen Iran as their home.”

Shahram, a young Persian Jew who travelled from the city of Shiraz to visit the Cylinder said: “when I laid my eyes on the Cylinder I start shaking and tears ran down my cheeks, which I had no control over. I felt a bit embarrassed but when I noticed that I am not the only one drowning in the tears of excitement I let my emotions to run.

”Maurice another teenager who was not lucky as Shahram to visit the Cylinder, said: “I am going to see it no matter how long it takes. From my childhood my family told me about Cyrus the Great and who he was. This artefact has importance for me for a number of reasons: first and foremost because I am an Iranian and second, this is a historical document that tells me how my ancestors were freed from captivity.”

Daniyal, a patriot Persian Jew from Esfahan and a veteran hero of Iran-Iraq war in moving words told me: “I defended my country during the sacred defence against the Arab aggressors and served in the frontline and I have a shattered leg to prove it. My feelings of knowing Cyrus’s Cylinder is home, is the exact feeling of joy and excitement that I had when I was ready to offer my life defending my country. If I have to sleep behind the doors of the National Museum, I will do it to see the Cylinder.”

According to Iran’s National Museum over 2,000 peoples are visiting the Cylinder everyday. The number could be have been three times but since the visitors are divided into groups of 20 to 25 individuals and at a time to be led to a special room where the priceless Persian artefact is kept, the numbers are currently limited to 2,000.

Some Iranians called for the museum to be open 24 hours while the Cylinder before its return to England.

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