To celebrate the 33rd anniversary on Wednesday of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s triumphant return from exile, Iran re-enacted his arrival at a Tehran airport, using a cardboard cutout to stand in for the late Iranian leader.
Photographs of the ceremony published on Tuesday by Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency seemed to lend themselves to parody, with Farsi and English Internet satirists treating them as bizarre authoritarian kitsch.
The photos showed a band playing welcome music as dozens of men in dress uniforms clutched roses and lined up on a tarmac for the staged arrival of the cardboard Ayatollah Khomeini.
The Twitter account for the English-language Iranian blog Pedestrian was characteristic of the reaction:
Haven’t laughed this hard in SO long. Iranian blogistan is on comedy fire with the cardboard Imam: baztab.net/fa/news/1787/%… #Iran #KhomeiniThe anonymous creator of Cardboard Khomeini has taken part of one of the photographs, the ayatollah’s oversize likeness being carried by two security officers in sunglasses, and pasted it into a variety of iconic images like the Beatles “Abbey Road” album cover, the moon landing and Ronald Reagan’s 1980 inauguration.
— Sidewalk Lyrics (@pedestrian) February 1, 2012
Shortly after the airport arrival, another cardboard cutout made an appearance in southern Tehran at Refah School, which served as Ayatollah Khomeini’s base of operations. There, it was joined by officials, including the education minister, who sat in a large circle with the silent version of the revered leader and awkwardly drank tea.
In [one parody,] the cardboard Khomeini complains that he was not served a glass of tea. "I'm the Supreme Leader! Where is my tea???"
Here's my contribution: