By: Mir M.Hosseini
Iranian Majlis and Senate approved the bill to use Imperial Calendar. Mohammad Reza Shah's ambitions during the 2500 Years Celebrations, had already irked many Iranians in 1971. The despot king wanted to have control on everything and for that reason, Iran switched to single party system in 1975. There was no tolerance for opposition and all this happened under American supervision.
The Imperial Calendar was thus to replace the Islamic Calendar which was based on Prophet Mohammad's migration from Mecca to Medina. The new calendar started from 599 AD, a date based on coronation of Cyrus The Great who founded Iran and the Achaemenid Empire. Probably, in this manner the Pahlavi regime was to gain more legitimacy while playing the role of the gendarme of the Middle East. At the time, Iran was Israel's strongest ally in the region and a heavy weight power on negotiation tables.
However, the decision to change the calendar caused a backlash from many environments and the harshest criticisms came from the Muslim clerics who saw the move as an insult to Islamic values and religious roots of Iran. Indeed, 1970s were the years when opposition against Shah gained momentum and all dissident groups including Islamists, Marxists and Nationalists gradually united against Shah.
Although the decision to change the calendar was never found acceptance among people and was limited to some official correspondence, in a move that was aimed at reconciliation between Shah and the nation, an announcement was made on Sep, 2, 1978 which officially reversed the decision to change the calendar. It was too late though; millions of Iranians joined demonstrations against Shah who was finally toppled. The Pahlavi regime was replaced by the Islamic Republic.