In commemoration of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a paper model of Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini was paraded in the streets of the capital Tehran amid sarcastic remarks by Iranians and indignation on the part of several officials.
The “paper Khomeini,” as the model came to be called, first came down a plane to reenact the supreme leader’s return from exile in France after the toppling of the Shah.
Officers and clerics then took paper Khomeini to the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran and where the late leader gave his first speech after coming back. Officials attending the ceremony played a recording of the speech then started talking to the paper model about current problems in Iran like the nuclear program, economic sanctions, oil exports and others.
The model then roamed the streets of Tehran accompanied by a group of officials while army helicopters started spraying rose water and throwing flowers at the procession.
Creating a paper model of Ayatollah Khomeini was met with disdain on the part of hundreds of thousands of Iranians, especially on social networking websites. Many of the scoffing remarks focused on the idolatry aspect of the process and some even accused the regime of going back to pagan times.
Criticism of the issue was not confined to Iranian citizens, as many officials echoed the same sentiment.
Former Iranian president and current Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani described the ceremony as “absurd.”
“This kind of behavior tarnishes the image of the revolution and allows our enemies to make fun of us,” he said in a statement.
“It also hurts the feelings of all Iranians who believe in the revolution,” he added.
The widespread indignation at the creation of paper Khomeini eventually led state TV to stop live transmission of the ceremony.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)