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Hossein hocus pocus
In an era when the world is making quantum leaps in science and technology, we Iranians still spend a lot of our lives in the past

February 21, 2005

As I flip through Iranian satellite TV channels I can't help stop and watch the Ashura processions offered by the Islamic Republic. A big room full of hundreds of bearded men, as well as some children, weeping and hitting themselves on the head mourning the loss of a character named Hossein. I am angered and dumb founded as to how anyone can spend one minute of their precious life mourning the loss of a man from another era.

Religious superstition is like a virus that spread through Iran when the Arabs invaded our country thousands of years ago. This virus is an important barrier to our country's progress and partly responsible for its demise.

At times I wonder what a Westerner would say if he sees grown men cutting themselves with machetes to mourn a figure from another origin. How comical it would sound to the outside world when more than one hundred days in the Iranian calendar is dedicated to mourning, crying and wasting time over foreign characters. Today it's Mohammad, tomorrow Hossein and the next day Hassan.

Who where these people? How much do we really know about them and as the English saying goes,Who cares? Why do I have to care what Hossein did 1,300 years ago in Iraq? If we want to celebrate someone's bravery, why can't we celebrate the bravery of twelve year-olds who defended our country by strapping grenades around their waist? Were they any less brave than Hossein?

Do we really know much about these religious figures other than stories that were written about them and passed on from one generation to the next? What would we Iranians say if every year Americans came to the streets, beat themselves with chains screamed from the top of their lungs in praise of a French leader. Wouldn't we say they are crazy?

In an era when the world is making quantum leaps in science and technology, we Iranians still spend a lot of our lives in the past. The regime has been successful in implanting the seeds of religious superstition and fanaticism early on. During the war, young 12 and 13-year-olds where given golden keys of heaven and told to expect a visit from a savior on a white horse. Their foreheads literally a bulls eye for Iraqi snipers waiting patiently to take their young lives away.

It is difficult to change religious beliefs of a nation overnight. But the work has to start somewhere. Young Iranian parents have to start teaching their children about faith but not the superstition and hocus pocus that has infected our culture. We should teach them about the genius of Newton, the magic of Beethoven and the bravery of thousands of Iranians who fought valiantly to save our Persian culture and land from Arab invaders. 

Religious superstition has taken our country back to the dark ages. Unless we wake up today and start changing our beliefs, our nation will sunk in an abyss of misery forever.

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Book of the day

Three volume box set of the Persian Book of Kings
Translated by Dick Davis

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