Museum's refusal to lend Persian artefact strains UK relations with IranThe British Museum's position seems entirely reasonable to me.
British Museum wary of lending 2,500-year-old Cyrus cylinder because of unrest since disputed election
* Matthew Weaver
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 October 2009 13.12 BST
The Cyrus cylinder, made around 530BC. Its lettering decrees that everyone should be free to practise their own religion. Photograph: British Museum
Britain's troubled relations with Iran have become further strained by a row about an ancient Persian artefact described as the world's first charter of human rights.
The British Museum is refusing to honour an agreement to lend the Cyrus cylinder to Iran because of the political turmoil that has gripped the country since the violently disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.
The Iranian authorities have responded by threatening to sever links with the British Museum if it delays lending the 2,500-year-old cylinder, which was ordered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great to enshrine religious toleration.
Persian scholars claim the museum is right to be wary of lending the cylinder because of attempts by antisemitic historians in Iran to attack Cyrus's reputation as the father of the Iranian nation.
Hannah Boulton, head of press and public relations at British Museum, tried to play down the row. "When lending any material you have to check that is an appropriate moment," she said.
"We are committed to lending the Cyrus cylinder to Iran. We hope to be able to honour that commitment, we can't say when that will be. At the moment we are monitoring the situation in Iran."
Background on the Cyrus Cylinder is here, here, here, and here.