The melting pot

The melting pot Like the EU, our region needs to think of an economic union and open trade routes instead of sticking to futile and counterproductive racist ideas

Hirad Dinavari June 8, 2005

In reply to Keyvan Valizadeh's “Turk khodeti”:

I am an Iranian-American who moved to the US in 1987. I am also of Kurdish, Persian, Arab and Azeri/Turkish heritage. I appreciate your article and am very very glad that you see how Azeri Nationalists do not talk about the full picture. However I am also very concerned by a number of things in your article.

No nationalist ideology, be it Persian, Azeri, Pan-Turanist, Kurdish, Arab, Zionist, Armenian or Afghan will give you the full picture. They are all wrong! I am glad you are reading history, but please read objective history, avoid ideologs with an agenda like Ahmad Kasravi. I am not saying he is wrong, or his research is faulty, I am saying he uses history to push his Iranian nationalist ideology. I am a history major and love the history of the Balkans, Turkey, Caucasus (Ghafghaz), Iran, Iraq, the Arab world, Afghanistan, Central Asia and India. I have lived in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Turkey.

From the Bay of Bengal to the Balkans, the people of this region are far more similar than different. Please do not use racist 19th century European concepts of race like Aryans, Turkic and Arab peoples in terms of racial groups… The people of this region are mixed and can not be defined in terms of pure racial groups. These false division are modern, due to the creation of nation states and mostly linguistic, NOT cultural or racial. Let me explain…

I will give you a modern example. I have lived in the US since 1986, today I feel American and Iranian. Can you honestly think that when the Ughuz Turks came from Inner Asia, back in the 11th century and settled in Central Asia, Afghanistan and all over Iran and Turkey, that they did not develop an attachment to their new homelands? Many Turkic speaking peoples have come through Iran, some settling in Iran others moving west.

By the time of the Saljuk period in the 13th century and later during the following Mongol and Turkic dynasties that ruled Iran, all these new dynasties of Turkic origins identified themselves as Moslems and as part of the existing Persian culture that they had settled into, for the most part they did not impose Turkish or Mongolian language or religion on Iran, but rather became Iranianized themselves. Just as today in the US and Canada, many people are American and Canadian but some are White, others, Black, others Asian, others Hispanic etc… But everyone is American or Canadian regardless, and there is a common culture besides the various diverse sub-group cultures.

And similarly the people in Iran who today come from the culturally Azerbaijani provinces regardless of their blood lines, be they of Iranian racial stock (Talysh, Tat etc..), of Turkic, Assyrian, Armenian, Kurdish, Persian and or Caucasus origins, they are all partners in Azeri culture and identity with Azeri culture and many know Azeri Turkish in addition to the languages that they speak at home, they all share the region they live in and they all are also part of the Iranian family regardless of ethnicity and religion. Similarly in the Republic of Azerbaijan, in addition to the majority Turkic Azeri population in Baku, people of Russian, Armenian, Lezgin, Avar, Talyshi, Kurdish, Tati, Tatar, Daghistani, Chechen and so on are all Azeri citizens belonging to Baku and Azerbaijan. The answer is inclusiveness, regardless of ethnicity, religion, language and ideology.

Our region, during its golden age was multi-ethnic with cities such as Sarajevo, Sofia, Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Baku, Isfahan, Mash-had, Samarkand, Balkh, Kabul, Delhi and Agra, all had multi ethnic and religious communities with various quarters of the city belonging to various groups.

Being homogenous breads ignorance, racism, xenophobia (look at Japan) and mixed metropolitan societies thrive and advance. What have we gained today as separate nation states focusing on mythical and falsely fashioned ideas of Serbian, Greek, Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Azeri, Kurdish, Afghan, Tajik and Uzbek racial purity and nationalism? Nothing but war, ethnic cleansing, ignorance and blind hate.

Azeris regardless of what ever ethnic origin that they are, be it Turkic, Persian or other Iranian speaking groups, are and will always be part of the Iranian family and they do not have to feel any less just because they do not speak an “Iranian” tongue, Azeris are Iranian and they have contributed immensely to Iran and its vibrancy.

Additionally I hope we all look at our surroundings, as a Persian speaker I can speak to an Afghan and a Tajik person and we all can understand each other fairly well, but when it comes to music, food and culture, I find that as an Iranian Kurd raised in the culture of 1970's Tehran, I am closer to Assyrians, or Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Turks and Iraqis even though I can not speak, Aramaic, Arabic, Armenian and Azeri/Turkish.

Similarly Afghans share a lot more culturally with a Pakistanis and a Indians and Tajiks are very similar to Uzbeks. The goal should be to teach and learn Arabic, Aramaic(Ashuri), Greek, Azeri/Turkish, Armenian, Kurdish, Persian and Pashto. We are all racially mixed and have been from the time of Cyrus the great, look at all the diverse ethnic groups represented in Persapolis. Like the EU, our region needs to think of an economic union and open trade routes instead of sticking to futile and counterproductive racist ideas of racial purity and nationalism in the part of the world known for being a melting pot since time immemorial.

About Hirad Dinavari is reference librarian in Washington DC.

RELATED Diaspora


Book of the day

Iranian Nationality and the Persian Language by Shahrokh Meskoob

Meet Iranian Singles

Iranian Singles

Recipient Of The Serena Shim Award

Serena Shim Award
Meet your Persian Love Today!
Meet your Persian Love Today!