The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


January 9, 2001

You are dead wrong

As I read these letters about race and racism, I am flabbergasted about what these Iranians think makes them Iranian. I haven't been in Iran for more than 10 years now. But the Iran I remember consisted of Turks, Persians, Gilakis, Arabs, Christians, Jews and many other ethnic and religious groups. Am I the only one that remembers this?

Please remember that Iran is bigger than Tehran! Being Iranian means so many things. And it is not limited to the Shi'ite Muslim religion and/or the Persian tongue. Have we really forgotten who we are?

The one thing I love about being Iranian is the fact that I can have Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish, Assyrian and Arab friends all within Iran. and they are no less or no more Iranian than I am.

I remember as a child my mother explaining to me, during a drive from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, what would remain of Iran if we decided it between the ethnic groups within Iran. Gilan would become its own country. Kurds in Iran would join other Kurds and form their own nation. Armenians would join Armenia. Turks could become part of Turkey. Baluchestan has enough identity to become its own country. Hormozgan could be the next UAE, and so on. By the time my mom and I got done we came to the conclusion that only Fars and Tehran were left. But eventually we even found a new destination for Fars as well.

The point I am trying to make is that being Iranian is not about being Shi'ite or speaking Persian. Being Iranian is being unified as one, and being hospitable to others.

While we are on the subject, remember the old Silk Route -- the route from Constantinople (Istanbul) right across Persia to China? Iranians have been known as tradesmen along this route for centuries.

The reason we have such a vivid history is our interactions with Arabs and other nations. And if you think that after all these interactions, being Iranian means being of pure Aryan blood you are dead wrong! Think next time you decide to identify yourself as Persian!

Sahar Nahrvar


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