Saturday, 11 June, 2016

Tehran’s city council may name a street after ‘Muhammad Ali’

As fans around the world remembered Muhammad Ali at the weekend, a member of Tehran’s city council suggested that a street in the Iranian capital be named after the American boxing legend, a convert to Islam who during a 1993 trip to Iran was quoted as calling the Islamic republic “the greatest.”

Addressing a meeting of the city council, Eqbal Shakeri described Ali as a “symbol of resistance to racism and U.S. imperialistic policies in the Vietnam War,” the IRNA state news agency reported – a reference to Ali’s refusal to be conscripted into the military in the 1960s in opposition to the war.

Ali, the three-time world heavyweight champion, died Friday aged 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s syndrome.

As the world reacted to news of his death, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, “May the Almighty receive Muhammad Ali – The Greatest in the ring and in the fight for justice, dignity and peace – in His infinite mercy.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari described Ali as a “Pahlevan” – an ancient Persian title of honor still awarded today to wrestling champions – and said he would remain “a constant reminder of negation of Imperialism and warmongering activities,” Fars news agency reported in a profile article.

Absent from the profile was any mention of the fact Ali visited Iran in 1993, when he campaigned for an exchange of soldiers still held captive after the Iran-Iraq war.

Ali laid a wreath at the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, who had died four years earlier, and joined worshipers at Tehran University for prayers.

On May 19, 1993, IRNA quoted him as saying: “’I have been to many countries and Iran is the greatest.”

Over the years Ali on several occasion tried to win the release of American hostages held by Iran or its proxies, although without evident success.

In 2011, Ali called on Iran to free two American hikers who had been charged with espionage after they and a third American strayed into Iran from the Iraqi region of Kurdistan in 2009.

In a letter purportedly sent to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Feb. 2011, Ali – describing himself as “your brother in Islam” – praised his “compassion” for releasing Shourd and called for “the same mercy and compassion” towards the other two.

“My last visit to Tehran was some years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. The people were so kind and beautiful,” Ali reportedly wrote. “Most Americans don’t know how warm and welcoming the Iranian people can be. One day, I hope I am able to return to Tehran to stand, greet and be among my Iranian brothers and sisters once again.”

A summary of the story from CNSnews

See also:

Rare pictures of Muhammad Ali’s visit to Tehran: ‘Iran Is The Greatest’

1 Comment

  1. Ali Shahzad

    June 7, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Mohd.Ali….the real hero.

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