Iranians need to heal the wounds of past religious and ethnic discrimination and offer to the discriminated groups greater rights
June 2, 2006
So, the Mohammad cartoon was not the only cartoon offending Muslim masses. Now there is also a cartoon offending Azeris. To complete the menu we need more cartoons, about a range of other sensitive issues that might upset Middle-Eastern peoples. Of course, this is just a joke! God forbid, anything that might cause violence is unwelcome.
Look at the US where nowadays African-Americans have "discriminatory" treatment, which is called positive discrimination! In universities and many many other places, in the US and some other civilised countries previously discriminated ethnic or religious groups have privilege toward the Christian white. This is a sign of public maturity and national integrity. Because those ethnic and religious groups that have been discriminated before have, not equal, but even greater rights than the previously privileged groups. I salute this courageous act and I believe that any nation must do the same to right the previous wrongs.
In Iran for example all minority ethnic and religious groups have been subject to systematic discrimination ever since the Pahlavis and through the Islamic Republic until now. And it is almost certain to continue for a long time. Because Iranians, and their leaders, do not seem to have got the maturity yet to face the realities and accept the past and do some righting of the past wrongs.
Iranian Kurds, Baluchis, Turkmans, Arabs and Jews have probably been among the most discriminated. Then it comes to more integrated groups such as Azeris, Loris, Gilakis and Mazandaranis. These groups have been less discriminated because of their closeness to the central government and Tehran and also because of their sheer numbers, especially with regards to the Azeris.
Iran needs to address the issue of past mistakes and give much greater rights to all religious and ethnic minority groups within Iran. Being different is not a threat, nor is it anything bad. Diversity must be celebrated and not marginalised. Iranian languages and various traditions must be valued, kept alive and even promoted as much as possible. If the current trend of Persian-isation of Iran continues there will not only be any future uniform religious or ethnic Iran but there will be more discontent and outrage.
Iran is not a newly discovered land where there may be a need of nation-building. Iranians are old proud different peoples that have come together to form a country based on some common traditions, such as the Nowrooz and many others and also the common religion, Shia Islam. But let's not forget that Iranians are not by any means Persian and not all Iranians celebrate Nowrooz and not all Iranians are Shia Muslims.
Iranians need to heal the wounds of past religious and ethnic discrimination and offer to the discriminated groups greater rights even than the preferred ethnic or religious groups now.
Diversity is beautiful and Iranians must be proud of having a country with tens of languages and dialects. They must be kept alive and different peoples must have some rights that would give them some sense of belonging and make them more patriotic to the greater Iran.