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Iranian Policy of Inclusivity and the Lion/Sun National Flag

By Iran Quest on August 13, 2009

Our Weapon, Iranian Identity thumbnail

In response to comments received by email and those posted online regarding my August 11, 2009, article entitled “Our Weapon, Iranian Identity,” a supplemental seemed appropriate. Most readers questioned potential religious symbolism in the national flag and rightfully so given an illegitimate theocratic dictatorship declared war on the Iranian people. Hopefully, this will put to rest the universal concerns regarding the symbolic meaning of the colors and emblem on the Iranian lion/sun national flag.

Religion is a reality and it’s here to stay. Additionally, the Iranian uprising against an Islamic regime does not mean all Iranians are going to put aside their personal belief and faith in Islam. Having said that, let’s turn our attention to the heart of the matter. From the very beginning of their recorded history and unlike the current Islamic regime, Iranians were inclusive people. The substantial Persepolis tablets, for example, record the right to work and earn a living in Iran regardless of race, religion, or gender. That means an empire ruling approximately 23 nations included everyone in its growth and progress. One of the byproducts of such an inclusive policy is the Achaemenid Art which is purely and uniquely Iranian even though its various elements were adopted from other nations such as the Assyrians, the Elamites, and the Greeks. But just because elements were taken does not mean the final product is not new or innovative nor does the whole continue to represent its original subparts. In my opinion, nobody can explain this better than Darius the Great (522-486 B.C.E.), who states in his inscription at the royal palace at Susa (emphasis added):

Darius the King says: By the grace of Ahuramazda I built this palace.

This palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought. Downward the earth was dug, until I reached rock in the earth.… [T]he rubble was packed down, and that the sun-dried brick was molded, the Babylonian performed these tasks.

The cedar timber, this was brought from a mountain named Lebanon. The Assyrian people brought it to Babylon; from Babylon the Carians and the Yauna [Greeks] brought it to Susa. The yak-timber was brought from Gandara and from Carmania.

The gold was brought from Lydia and from Bactria, which here was wrought. The precious stone lapis lazuli and carnelian which was wrought here, this was brought from Sogdia. The precious stone turquoise, this was brought from Chroasmia, which was wrought here.

The silver and the ebony were brought from Egypt. The ornamentation with which the wall was adorned, that from Yaun was brought. The ivory which was wrought here was brought from Nubia and from India and from Arachosia.

The stone columns which were here wrought, a village named Abirdu, in Elam - from there were brought. The stone-cutters who wrought the stone, those were Yaun and Lydians.

The goldsmiths who wrought the gold, those were Medes and Egyptians. The men who wrought the wood, those were Lydians and Egyptians. The men who wrought the baked brick, those were Babylonians. The men who adorned the wall, those were Medes and Egyptians.

Darius the King says: At Susa a very excellent work was ordered, a very excellent work was brought to completion.

May Ahuramazda protect me, my father Hystaspes, and my country.

Just as the Iranian architecture and art at Susa was created by using various foreign elements, the Iranian tricolor/sun/lion flag adopted as the national flag in 1907 is uniquely Iranian. Here too Iranian tradition of inclusivity prevailed so that although elements of the flag may have been adopted from various sources, the final product was uniquely and indisputably Iranian. Whether any of the colors or the symbols were meant to represent Islam is irrelevant to the 7th century Moslem invasion, because Moslems did not believe in flags and forbid them. For several centuries Iranians did not have a flag. Having re-instituted a flag is Iranian in of itself.

In conclusion, it does not matter what colors or emblems Iranians would have chosen in 1907 for their national flag; what is important is that such a flag was chosen, documented, and recognized. No occupational force has the right to arbitrarily dismiss it.

Sheda Vasseghi has a Masters in Ancient History with emphasis on ancient Persia. She is a member of the Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to political magazines such as WorldTribune.com.

Read the original article with comments here.

or without comments here:

In response to comments received by email and those posted online regarding my August 11, 2009, article entitled “Our Weapon, Iranian Identity,” a supplemental seemed appropriate. Most readers questioned potential religious symbolism in the national flag and rightfully so given an illegitimate theocratic dictatorship declared war on the Iranian people. Hopefully, this will put to rest the universal concerns regarding the symbolic meaning of the colors and emblem on the Iranian lion/sun national flag.

Religion is a reality and it’s here to stay. Additionally, the Iranian uprising against an Islamic regime does not mean all Iranians are going to put aside their personal belief and faith in Islam. Having said that, let’s turn our attention to the heart of the matter. From the very beginning of their recorded history and unlike the current Islamic regime, Iranians were inclusive people. The substantial Persepolis tablets, for example, record the right to work and earn a living in Iran regardless of race, religion, or gender. That means an empire ruling approximately 23 nations included everyone in its growth and progress. One of the byproducts of such an inclusive policy is the Achaemenid Art which is purely and uniquely Iranian even though its various elements were adopted from other nations such as the Assyrians, the Elamites, and the Greeks. But just because elements were taken does not mean the final product is not new or innovative nor does the whole continue to represent its original subparts. In my opinion, nobody can explain this better than Darius the Great (522-486 B.C.E.), who states in his inscription at the royal palace at Susa (emphasis added):

Darius the King says: By the grace of Ahuramazda I built this palace.

This palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought. Downward the earth was dug, until I reached rock in the earth.… [T]he rubble was packed down, and that the sun-dried brick was molded, the Babylonian performed these tasks.

The cedar timber, this was brought from a mountain named Lebanon. The Assyrian people brought it to Babylon; from Babylon the Carians and the Yauna [Greeks] brought it to Susa. The yak-timber was brought from Gandara and from Carmania.

The gold was brought from Lydia and from Bactria, which here was wrought. The precious stone lapis lazuli and carnelian which was wrought here, this was brought from Sogdia. The precious stone turquoise, this was brought from Chroasmia, which was wrought here.

The silver and the ebony were brought from Egypt. The ornamentation with which the wall was adorned, that from Yaun was brought. The ivory which was wrought here was brought from Nubia and from India and from Arachosia.

The stone columns which were here wrought, a village named Abirdu, in Elam - from there were brought. The stone-cutters who wrought the stone, those were Yaun and Lydians.

The goldsmiths who wrought the gold, those were Medes and Egyptians. The men who wrought the wood, those were Lydians and Egyptians. The men who wrought the baked brick, those were Babylonians. The men who adorned the wall, those were Medes and Egyptians.

Darius the King says: At Susa a very excellent work was ordered, a very excellent work was brought to completion.

May Ahuramazda protect me, my father Hystaspes, and my country.

Just as the Iranian architecture and art at Susa was created by using various foreign elements, the Iranian tricolor/sun/lion flag adopted as the national flag in 1907 is uniquely Iranian. Here too Iranian tradition of inclusivity prevailed so that although elements of the flag may have been adopted from various sources, the final product was uniquely and indisputably Iranian. Whether any of the colors or the symbols were meant to represent Islam is irrelevant to the 7th century Moslem invasion, because Moslems did not believe in flags and forbid them. For several centuries Iranians did not have a flag. Having re-instituted a flag is Iranian in of itself.

In conclusion, it does not matter what colors or emblems Iranians would have chosen in 1907 for their national flag; what is important is that such a flag was chosen, documented, and recognized. No occupational force has the right to arbitrarily dismiss it.

Sheda Vasseghi has a Masters in Ancient History with emphasis on ancient Persia. She is a member of the Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to political magazines such as WorldTribune.com.

Read the original article with comments here.

Our Weapon, Iranian Identity

By Iran Quest on August 11, 2009

Our Weapon, Iranian Identity thumbnail

Upon inquiring about a visa to visit ancient Sasanian sites, the employee at the Embassy of Tajikistan in Washington asked, “Why did they stop fighting? If they had put up more resistance we all would have been Zoroastrians.” His unexpected and astonishing comment referred to the Muslim invasion of the Sasanian Persian Empire (224-651 C.E.).

Never before had it dawned on me how important Iran’s identity is to all those who are of Iranian stock who came from the Greater Iran. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmanestan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan all share a common Iranian identity. It seems only logical they would gravitate to Iran creating a natural geopolitical alliance. But Iran has been occupied by a theocratic dictatorship for thirty years rendering such a cultural reconnection impossible. As a matter of fact, in its current demise Iran is threatened by further disintegration.

In order to destroy a people’s identity an occupying force attacks their native culture and heritage. According to Machiavelli, “there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” In 1979, in its quest to eradicate the Iranian identity, one of Islamic Republic’s first strikes against Iranians was to replace their national flag. Putting aside ancient historical references, Article 5 of the 1907 supplemental laws to the Iranian Constitution made the tri-color flag with the lion/sun emblem the official national flag.

Unfortunately, many either did not know or have forgotten this important symbol of unity and national identity. They erroneously attribute it to the late Shah’s regime (Pahlavi 1925-1979) even though this flag carries Iranian symbols dating back to the Achaemenid Persian Empire (550-330 B.C.E.), the first world empire covering approximately 3 million square miles. With the recent and sustained uprisings against the mullahcracy, the importance of a nation’s flag has taken center stage as monarchists, republicans, nationalists and socialists abroad have been fighting over what to display when demonstrating in support of their fellow countrymen demanding a secular democracy.

Nationalism is the most effective weapon against the occupying forces of the Islamic Republic. Machiavelli believed a nation was a force with an aggressive and dynamic essence. A national identity is a prerequisite for progress. It is imperative for Iranians abroad, who live in free democratic societies, to put aside their petty bickering and display those symbols considered to be Iranian. Symbols break through language and cultural barriers. They strike fear in the heart and soul of the enemy. Psychological warfare is sometimes more powerful than physical confrontations. Exhibiting the national Iranian lion/sun flag shows complete rejection of the occupying regime in Tehran. A government cannot function without its people’s blessing. By standing with Iranian people in rejecting a regime they did not and do not want, the world has no choice but render it illegitimate. Foreign diplomacy becomes moot and ineffective when the government in Tehran is not considered the country’s authorized representative and is holding power solely through terror and violence. A ruling party without the people’s support has no resources at a time of conflict.

As Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh or The Book of Kings represents Iranian heritage and legacy, the lion/sun flag compliments the Shahnameh as the symbol of Iranian identity and origin. The fall of the illegitimate regime in Tehran is inevitable. Its days are numbered. Whether a monarch will ever play a role in Iran’s future remains to be seen. But regardless of the form of government Iranians will choose once free, their country has a unique history and culture solely based on its 2500 years of monarchy as memorialized in the Shahnameh. The deeds of the great Iranian rulers such as the King of Anshan Cyrus the Great (founder of the first world empire), Arsaces I Parthian (freed Iran from 150 years of Greek domination), Ardeshir I Sassanian (restored Iran’s glory and national identity), and Reza Shah Pahlavi (saved Iran from disintegration, bankruptcy, and tribal feudalism) will forever cast a shadow over an occupying force. Even Alexander of Macedonia knew in order to be the new master of Asia; he had to be accepted as a legitimate Persian king and as such shaped his policies to achieve that goal.

Ancient Iranians believed their land was protected by fravahar or khavarneh, a spiritual fortune or grace. This concept also served as a reminder of one’s purpose in life. The unprecedented sacrifice and bravery displayed daily by Iranian men and women as they physically face the Islamic Republic’s armed thugs only validates the existence of fravahar. With the 1906 Constitutional Revolution, Iranians accomplished an amazing political achievement by putting aside absolute monarchy in favor of representative government, but because of overwhelming internal and external obstacles, it has taken Iranians over a century and a bloody Islamic revolution to learn that the foundation of a democracy requires absolute separation of religion and state. At the dawn of an Iranian national rebirth, let us stand united with the lion/sun flag in one hand and the Shahnameh in the other so when Iranians free their nation from the occupational forces of the Islamic Republic, they can heal their wounds and strive for harmony and balance in the region by extending Iran’s hands to the children of the long gone Greater Iran.

Sheda Vasseghi has a Masters in Ancient History with emphasis on ancient Persia. She is a member of the Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to political magazines such as WorldTribune.com.


The original article published at: Iran Quest
 


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