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Posted on Sat 1 June 2013

Freedoms We Risk Losing

Let us begin with the Cylinder of Cyrus in the British Museum. It is the Proclamation of Freedom by Cyrus the Great (Kourosh-i-Kabir as he is called by the Iranian people today) when the Persian Empire reached its zenith. The emperor is mentioned in the Bible as one of God’s anointed who was to bring liberation to the people of Israel, who were at that time in bondage.

The Cylinder of Cyrus was loaned to the National Museum in Tehran for the last year or so (so that it was back home, if you like). At the time, I was engaged in a kind of dialogue with the Iranian authorities and I thought that I would begin my part of the dialogue by saying something about the Cylinder. I said how wonderful it was, this tradition of freedom and tolerance in Iran that goes back to Cyrus the Great. After I had finished, the man who was chairing the meeting on the other side looked at me and said, “Bishop, we are not interested in the past. We are only interested in the future.” Well, can it be right for a nation to forget its heritage? Britain is busily forgetting its heritage and needs to be reminded, but what about Iran and Cyrus?

The full Standpoint article can be viewed here.

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