Worse than Islamic fundamentalism

My often remarks and writings about Iranian-type Aryanism has been vigorously attacked by many Iranians. Although many Iranians would argue that Iranian Aryanism is inoffensive and is only needed for identifying what being an Iranian means, the sole purpose of using a race (as it is perceived) to identify a nation is ominous enough to be addressed as a serious issue.

The huge number of Iranians, especially those in the diaspora who have still kept their Iranian identity alive, who believe in an Aryan nation is a simple sign that the issue is not a marginal one. And this is the reason for my preoccupation (or obsession as some Iranians may say) with this subject as I have also had first-hand experience of the Aryanist ideology when I used to live in Iran.

Do the Western governments, in America or other places, and also Iranians in general, ever think which kind of a regime would replace Iran’s Islamic government in case it fell? I say there is a serious case for seeing an Aryanist regime to replace the Islamist one. An Aryanist regime that may prove to take Iran to disintegration and Iranians to civil strife, doing no good for either Iran or the region. Iranians are not yet prepared for a full-fledged democracy in which human rights are respected and minorities protected.

Western governments, especially the US administration, must think many times before wishing for the annihilation of the Iranian Islamic government. Although the IRI is a relatively dangerous one it has not proved yet prepared to do anything serious other than annoying Israel. Such fundamentalist regimes are usually more in danger of implosion than being destroyed by an outside force, so time may just be enough to solve what is seen as an imminent threat.

The same also happened with Communism, which was far more dangerous than Iranian Islamism. Many Iranians, and Westerners alike, hating the Islamic regime of Iran, for simply being Islamic, do not contemplate about what is going to replace it. Well, I actually believe that Westerners think about this issue quite enough after having had the experience of Iraq.

Iranian Aryanists see all non-Aryans (as they perceive them to be non-Aryans), Turks, Arabs, Jews etc as threats to their existence and identity. Araynist blogs are full of texts describing not necessarily America, but more likely Israel, then Turkey and Azerbaijan, and let’s not forget Arab states, as threats. Such an Aryanist regime may prove far worse than a Shia extremist regime, for both Iranians, and the region.

In my previous article (Azerbaijan in Iran) I had mentioned a few things that angered Iranian nationalists, believers in an Aryan Iran. I had mentioned about how human rights are not respected in Iran regarding the use of local or minority languages, Azerbaijani (or Turki as they call it in Iran) in this case, and anti-IRI Iranians attacked this as being untrue, because people are allowed to use Azerbaijani (and other languages such as Kurdish etc) among themselves.

Yes, maybe there is a country in the world where using your own mother tongue is also banned at home (I don’t know any but there may be, who knows!), which is not the case in Iran! Using local languages where people (24% Azeri/Turki, 8% Gilaki and Mazandarani, 7% Kurdish, 3% Arabic etc according to the CIA) speak other languages than Farsi (modern Persian language) in any official (local schools, institutions etc) way is not allowed, though the Iranian constitution has expressly allowed it.

I must make this clear that the Islamic regime is not an Aryanist regime and the pursuit of discriminatory policies against minorities (ethnic or religious) are because of utter disrespect for human rights of individuals or groups in general and not due to an ideology based on race or nationality. Iranian ethnic minority groups’ activists have been, and are, subject to being imprisoned or killed for demanding their rights, because they are seen as threats toward the ideology of Shia Islam and also possible threats toward the territorial integrity of Iran.

Let’s go a bit deeper into the issue of Aryanism in Iran and see what it is about! I have been accused to giving the sense that Iranian-type (also used in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India and some other countries) Aryanism is different than what Aryanism was known up to about 60 years ago in the Christian world. Locals may have come up with their own definitions of Aryanism (do Iranians know that Tajikistan has officially adopted the shape of the Swastika to identify with?) but looking into the modern history of the Middle East, and Europe, we can see that the use of the phrase ‘Aryan race’ first started to appear in the West, referring mainly to non-Jewish north American and northern Europeans.

The term was adopted by the Nazis for blaming non-Aryans (primarily Jews, but also Gypsies and some other perceived non-Aryans) for causing all the troubles of the world up to that point. Nazis, to justify their theory, accused Britain and America, as being nothing but Jewish puppet states where the Jews controlled everything and that was, according to the Nazis, the cause of those countries’ official dissociation from the Nazi Aryanist ideology. This was in ignorance of the fact that it was mostly Britain that promoted the Aryan theory not only in the Christian world but also throughout the world (especially India and the Middle East) far before the Nazis took over Germany.

And this was the time (after the Christian world started and perfected the theory) when there are first cases of referring to Aryans and the Aryan race in Iran and other Middle-Eastern regions. There are ancient texts when pre-Islamic Persian rulers have used the word Arya to identify themselves, but we have little idea what exactly they referred to (it was not about race anyway), and beside all this, Iranians, the region, and the whole world has changed so much ever since, people have moved, have adopted different religions, languages and habits. And what is with this pause? Why there is no mention of the Aryans, the Aryan race or ideology, until Europeans bring it to the Middle East?

All we can see in Middle Eastern, Iranian and alike, writings are either related to Islam, or to various other social, political or scientific preoccupations of their relevant times. Therefore, although Iranian, Afghan, and other Aryanist nationalists may argue otherwise, it is clear that the adoption of the Aryanist ideology had, and still has, its inspirations and roots in the modern Christian world’s Aryanist theory that was dropped when the second World War ended. Unfortunately the Middle East did not drop the theory, having been largely unaffected by the war.

There is also this confusion in the Middle East to what actually means Aryan. Although the original European theory refers to Aryan as a race, which is an extremely unscientific and flawed theory, some Iranians may often prefer referring to it as a group of people who speak Indo-Eruopean languages, while a race at other places and contexts. If I say that Aryanism, or saying that Iranians are Aryans, is racism, then Aryan nationalists will argue that being an Aryan is not about race, but about being part of the group of Aryan speakers. Then the problem, also argued by some Iranians in my previous article (Azerbaijan in Iran), comes up when they clearly use Aryan as a race by referring to Iranian Azerbaijanis as Turkified Aryans, and the Safavid dynasty also as Turkified Aryans!

According to them although the Safavid were Turkified, like most of the rest of Azerbaijan (an Iranian area), 500 years ago when Shah Ismail took control of Azerbaijan, later the whole Iranian plateau, they were Aryans because some 300-400 years before that (800-900 years ago) their forefather was ‘clearly’ a Kurd, hence an Aryan! They ignore that the Safavid considered themselves descendants of the prophet Mohammad, therefore in case we go back even further in time, they must have been Arabs. We may even go back in time and consider the Safavid monkeys because according to modern scientific theory we were all some kind of monkeys at some point.

There is this serious theoretical problem about Aryanism in Iran. Is it a race-based theory, or is it a language-based theory? Do we consider Uzbeks, who are Sunni Asiatic (of Asian race, i.e. looking somewhat like Chinese), Aryans? They speak a Turkic language but they celebrate Norouz and have a culture that is extremely similar to the Iranian culture. Do we consider Germans Aryans? Do we consider Kurds Aryans? Do we consider Azerbaijanis Aryans? What about Turks? Do we consider Turks in Turkey Aryans? They don’t look like any other race than Iranians, do they? So, what is being an Aryan?

It means NOTHING. It is not a race. It fails to meat any criteria to be defined. It is nothing but a means of justifying failings and short-comings by blaming others (for instance Arabs, Turks or Jews), therefore running away from realities. Racially speaking you can be Caucasian, Asian, African, American, or mixed. There is no Aryan race out there. Is being an Aryan about being an Indo-European? That cannot be a definition of a country or a nation then. Why not drop the Aryan word then because it has been so much misused and abused by the Nazis? This was the reason the Christian world dropped the term.

If being an Aryan is being an Indo-European then Azerbaijanis are not Aryans. They belong to the Turkic-speaking group of peoples, just like the Uzbeks or the Turks of Turkey, though they may belong to different races (Uzbeks are Asians while Turks and Azerbaijanis are Caucasian). Azerbaijanis were (as many scientific studies show) some Iranic-speaking people, or peoples, at least partially, probably related to Persian, just like the Talysh or the Kurds, some 900 years ago or so.

However they were a different people than the Persians, again just like the Talysh, the Kurds or other Iranic peoples. Then they got Turkified, they adopted, developed and perfected a united Turkic language that is different from all other major Turkic languages. Now, if we consider Azerbaijanis as they used to be some 900 years ago (therefore “Aryan” as Iranian Aryanists claim) then we can, again, go even further in history and find out what the inhabitants of Azerbaijan were some 10,000 years ago, or maybe even before. We can do the same for the rest of Iran, and nobody will be either Persian or anything similar to it because as we know Aryan tribes (Indo-European speaking peoples) moved to the region from somewhere else (probably to the north), and there were some original inhabitants of the area before the Aryans moved into the Iranian plateau.

How can Iranians be Aryanists then when being an Aryan means pretty much nothing? And, what is wrong being an Iranian anyway? Fars (ethnic Persian) Iranians can be proud of their rich literary heritage (world-famous Persian poets like Khayyam, Saadi, Hafez, Ferdousi etc), which is one of a kind in the world, while other Iranians can also be proud of their own language, culture and history. Relating being an Iranian, or relating the Iranian identity to Aryans, is doing nothing but harm to Iran and its image not only among non-Persian Iranians but also to the wider world.

In case being an Iranian does need a definition then it can be this: most Iranians speak an Iranic language and they are Shia Muslims, or simply anyone holding an Iranian citizenship. Then, as many Aryanist Iranians see, there is a serious problem with having some one/quarter (24% or so) of the population (Azerbaijanis) being non-Iranians whose historical contributions to the modern Iran have been far greater than the Iranic-speakers!

And this is where we find the reason behind all this attempt to Aryanise Azerbaijanis. Taking into account the mass migration of Azerbaijanis (mostly due to lack of investment in the region) to Tehran and other Persian areas of Iran it is also very possible that the 24% is no more representative and Azerbaijanis, even taking into account those who consider themselves Azeris in Tehran and other non-Azerbaijani areas, may be somewhere below 20% of the total population.

Unless Azerbaijanis are Aryanised (as Iranian nationalists attempt to do) what can the identity of Iran do with positive, or negative, but extremely important Iranian names such as, Shah Ismail (the founder of the modern Iran), Shah Abbas (Iran’s greatest post-Islamic ruler), the Safavid, the Qajar, Sattar Khan (the leader of Iran’s freedom-seeker Constitutionalists)? What Iranian nationalists miss though is that the only thing that may increasingly cause a serious rift between Azerbaijanis and the rest of Iran is nothing but this Aryanising attempt itself.

And the problem with Azerbaijanis (which occurs when defining Iran as a country where most people speak an Iranic language) can be solved by accepting and acknowledging the realities and respecting non-Persians’ own languages, traditions and customs by not only allowing them but also promoting them as Iranian riches. Few non-Persian Iranians genuinely desire separation and Azerbaijanis in particular have historically been attached to Iran, nowadays even more due to having so many relatives living outside Azerbaijan-proper.

Azerbaijani Turk rulers of Iran knowing that they were the rulers of mainly Iranic-speaking country adopted Farsi (Persian) as the official language of Iran so there is no real problem of having a country where there is a large non-Iranic-peaking minority group, that may no more be that large afterall.

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