I recently wrote an article on the much contested name of the body of water that lies between Saudi Arabia and Iran, better known as the Persian Gulf [“The Gulf wars“]. I took a critical approach to the unimpeded accord that came about through the paradigm of property and ownership. A lamentation if you will, considering the more urgent and incessant state encroachment on the daily lives of Iranians. I have received many replies to this article; both praise and criticism. Here, I would like to address the letters of criticism that I have received.
Although, I enjoy a good critique of one's work, in this case, the criticisms made against my argument, only aid in validating my arguments in the article. For instance, a letter was written to me berating my name and referring to me as an Arab.
Normally, I would not have responded to such a base form of crititquing, however, because is indicative of his latent racism, I felt it needed to be acknowledged. The second letter received, quoted a well-known verse of Ferdowsi's: cho Iran nabashad, tan e man mabad, and goes on to say, “this was written by our grandfather, Ferdowsi.”
The above-noted quote is an example of the simple mythologizing of Iranian historiography. Iranians are not locked into a constant struggle between the Tazi's and Turani's; this is no way to live. Ferdowsi is not my grandfather; he was a gifted Iranian writer, besides, my grandfathers name is Salar Momtaz.
Though he did not resort to quoting Ferdowsi, Mr. Charmchi's response wreaked of the defensive nativist nationalism that has plagued third world social movements since the rise of nation – states. An integral part of this has to do with the gendering of the land, which Charmchi does, when he states – “There is however, plenty of disgrace in pandering to the enemies of Iran and attacking those who seek to defend her.” By the way, I am the disgraced one in Charmchi's equation.
Charmchi's response also reads like a Harlequin romance gone sour:”the Arabs have repeatedly attempted to invade, pillage, rape and loot the Persian heartland since they stormed out of the desert in the seventh century.” It is obvious that Charmchi is not a historian, and that's fine.
However, the dominant narrative being promulgated by the Charmchi's, is not only historically debateable, but is counter – intuitive. Let us stop resorting to this negation of the other; this constant polarization in argumenting a distinct peoples. Instead, let us focus on our universal connections, while recognizing distinctions, and not making distinction the norm.
Mr. Charmchi concludes with: “All I am saying is that the Arabs need to respect Iran. Short of that, I'll be damned if I keep silent while they distort history to suit their racist impulses.”
All I am saying, Mr. Charmchi, is that maybe when Iranians begin to respect their history and their struggles, by not resorting to the occupation of a binary world, they will turn their eye right inward and begin recognizing that their anti – Arab sentiments are not as a result of actions on the part of Arab countries or peoples, but as a result of their own governments disdain for any ritual, culture, language, or history, that is not in line with the perverse ideology of the Iranian state, that calls itself Islamic.
About Samira Mohyeddin has a degree in Religion and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto, and is currently pursuing a collaborative graduate program in Women's and Middle Eastern Studies there.