cardboard ayatollah iran

Cardboard Ayatollah Used to Celebrate Historical Anniversary in Iran [WTF]

Iran has carried out an unintentionally hilarious celebration to mark one of its most important historical events.

First though, a bit of background. On this day 33 years ago, Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made an historic return to Iran, having spent 15 years in exile. The immensely popular Ayatollah had been forced to leave the country by the Shah, who was then backed by the U.S. However, 1977 saw the Iranian Revolution kick off, causing the Shah to flee. The revolution paved the way for the Ayatollah Khomeini’s triumphant return on February 1, 1979. He was met at Tehran Airport by literally millions of delirious Iranians, and by the end of 1979 was his country’s new Supreme Leader.

To this day the Ayatollah remains widely loved in Iran, and the anniversary of his return is commemorated each year with events across the country.

As he passed away in 1989, personal appearances are sadly out of the question, but the Iranian authorities had a solution this year: three giant cardboard cutouts of the Ayatollah, each carried down the steps of a plane and then marched around the airport. On their short tour, the cardboard constructions ‘inspected’ lines of troops as soldiers saluted and looked dutifully serious.

The bizarre and endearingly lo-fi ceremony ended with one of the cardboard Ayatollahs being paraded around the airport in an open-top army truck, as a marching band tooted its approval in the background. Wacky stuff indeed. Here are some more photos:

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[Images via Mehr News Agency]