DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran said Sunday it has foiled an online plot led by foreigners to spark dissent involving the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the day that many mark the birth of the Persian king by gathering at his grave.
The Iranian judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported that the Intelligence Ministry disrupted plans for an “illegal gathering” in Pasargad, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Tehran.
Roads to the area have been shut down over what authorities earlier described as an ongoing construction project. Online video purported to show fences earlier put up around the tomb. Iran’s paramilitary Basij force was to hold a drill in the area.
Demonstrations there last year were claimed by a variety of anti-government forces abroad as a sign of unrest in Iran.
The U.S.-backed shah actively promoted Iran’s ancient heritage and held a massive royal spectacle in 1971 to mark the 2,500-year anniversary of Cyrus’ founding of the Persian Empire. Critics later pointed to the lavish celebrations as an example of Western decadence.
The Iranian government has downplayed the country’s pre-Islamic past since the 1979 revolution.