Unworthy Heirs to Cyrus

Sadly, the legacy of one of the world's greatest civilizations is in peril, as vandals control the territory once ruled by giants.

If there were a debate among historians of ancient civilizations with topic being the relative greatness of Greek and Persian civilizations, it would without any doubt be a very heated contest. On the one side, pro-Greek scholars could claim that Alexander was a heroic leader who conquered and invaded foreign lands to rescue them from what he thought were "barbarians". Another major assertion might be that ancient Greece was an example of enlightened democracy for those times.

On the other side, experts in Iranian history highlight the Persians' important contributions to the world and the merits of its leaders. Dating back to several dozen centuries before the birth of Islam, the Persian Empire was the most extensive in the ancient Middle East. One of its leaders, Cyrus the Great, was the author of the first Universal Declaration of Human Rights in mankind's history.

Overall, historians agree that the peoples conquered by the Persians were never subjugated and submitted to the empire's authority, let alone enslaved. It was Cyrus, not Alexander, who liberated the Jews besieged by Babylonia. That is why, even today, the Jews are grateful to their Persian liberators.

Nonetheless, once can often to read somewhere in some blog or op-ed column about the Islamic Republic's Mullahs dreaming to turn the Middle East into another Persian Empire. Nothing could be further from reality. To be sure, there is much evidence that the theocrats in Tehran are responsible for the chaos and deaths in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestinian territories and I guess nobody could find proofs showing the opposite.

However, let us not confuse their hegemonic intentions with a great ancient civilization that in no way can be compared to a bunch of Islamist terrorists who imposed themselves in a coup-d'etat in 1979 and whose 'holy mission' is to export their revolution in the region and help create an Islamic caliphate in the world by terror and subjugation.

The Persians, including many female warriors, heroically fought the Arab Islamic invasions and tried to preserve their rich culture and traditions. After harsh battles, Islam prevailed and the Persian Empire started declining. Nevertheless, the Mullahs have failed and still fail to attract the support of many Iranians, whose nationalistic feelings toward their past and their identity are very strong.

Not yet satisfied with ruling Iran by Shari'a, radical Islam is set to wipe out all traces of an ancient civilization deemed as "un-Islamic". On January 22, 2007, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Energy announced the decision to flood the
Sivand Dam, which will destroy the ancient archeological sites of Pasargad and Bolaghi Gorge, where the mausoleum of Cyrus is located. The sad event is scheduled to take place during the days marking the anniversary of the second Islamist invasion of Iran - that is, the Khomeinist "revolution".

Sivand and Pasargad are part of the humankind's archeological treasures, with immeasurable historical value. Will the international community rush to rescue it? Allow me to be quite pessimistic. A world that allows unscrupulous individuals to buy and sell parts of a nation's monuments for the sake of profit, is very unlikely to be concerned with the safeguard of a major universal heritage.

Nothing was done to prevent the bombing of the Bamyaan Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan. So, why to expect the free world to take action now against the Mullahs' latest declaration of war on anything non-Islamic?  

I hope to be wrong in my guess. But signs are all there indicating that Islamism will get away with another mass crime.

Stefania Lapenna lives in Sardinia, Italy. She has been published in the Jerusalem Post, l'Opinione, Il Foglio and Ragion Politica (Italy) and is currently a contributor to TCS Daily, American Thinker and an occasional guest columnist at Town Hall. She blogs at Free Thoughts.

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