Jihad Watch: “Iranians have long been proud of their ancient history and culture,” Iranian journalist and Middle East analyst Saeid Jafari has written. The Achaemenid empire’s (559-330 BCE) founder, Cyrus the Great, looms particularly large in Iranian memory as a proud symbol of enlightened, tolerant rule, notwithstanding the scorn of modern Iran’s theocratic masters.
“Cyrus’s reign [559-529 BCE] is warmly remembered as the Persian equivalent of Camelot, the mythical English court ruled by King Arthur,” Moment writer Robert S. Greenberger has noted. Iranian expatriate students of ancient Persia have thus enthused online that Cyrus, whose name means “sun-like,” was the “father of the Iranian nation” and the first world leader called “the Great.” He is especially renowned for his eponymous Cyrus Cylinder, among the “most iconic objects of the ancient world,” as the Christian Science Monitor has observed.
This baked-clay cylinder marks Cyrus’ 539 BCE peaceful conquest of politically-divided Babylon with a proclamation by the “king of the universe,” as his Persian empire was the largest then known to the world. Upon entering Babylon, Cyrus proclaimed in an address his intention to “respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire.” Thus the “first charter of human rights ever set to paper predates the Magna Carta by some 1,700 years,” Greenberger has written. read more