There is absolutely nothing special about being an Iranian, no matter what kind of an Iranian you are. This is what I believe. I have recently, many times, mentioned my Iranian background, but I have never felt that my background is different, or any better, than other Iranians’ backgrounds. Iranians are of mixed backgrounds, they speak different languages and have different cultures and customs. It is quite a different country from this aspect. It is a very diverse country, unlike most other countries in the West where the vast majority of people speak the same language.
My pointing to my difference to the Iranians majority (half of the population who are Fars, or Persians) had mostly to do with a simple fact, and nothing more. I have got used to freedom of expression, without taboos and prejudices, in the West. This doesn’t mean I believe that there are Iranians who are better than others. It is indeed bothersome, not just to me, but to most other Iranian minority members, to see that their own identities are not acknowledged and respected.
This is beside the point that Iranian non-Persian provinces have been systematically discriminated against by the Pahlavi, and later the Islamic, governments, from many points of view, first of all investments. Non-Persian provinces (most notably, Kurdish, Arabic, Turkic, and Baluchi populated) have been left outside most development projects, and as a result many of the inhabitants of these areas often moved to Persian areas of Iran. This is clearly obvious from old and new statistics, for example mostly Azerbaijani populated areas of Iran comprised of some 1/4 of Iran’s population some 80 years ago or so, while they hold around 1/6 of Iran’s population now.
In turn Azerbaijanis have become numerous as minorities in Persian cities. This is nothing to hide, and there is no fantasy in it. The same is true about other minority groups, and probably is worse for Kurds and Arabs, who have historically been least integrated within the Iranian society.
Does the above realities mean that mentioning them is dangerous? Is mentioning these issues bad? I would like to know why so many Iranians of the diaspora are so angry about mentioning such issues. Some of them actually believe that no person on his right mind would say anything like this unless he is paid by some foreign powers. This has for so long been an Iranian obsession. That foreigners of various types are out there to get them.
Why would some foreign power pay me for writing such stuff? I am not even sure about the quality of my writings. I am actually pretty sure they are not as good as they could be in case I were a professional writer, which I am not. And I am sure they are not great. I don’t like them much. What makes me write is exactly the same urge that makes other normal Iranians write, and that is conscience.
Iranian history books are full of loathings against the British, the Russians, or the Americans for their interferences in Iran. During the Pahlavi regime it was also very fashionable to blame invading Arabs or Turks for Iran’s problems or backwardness. This last part has largely been removed from Iranian textbooks but the Russian, British, and American part has intensified, with some anti-Israeli rhetoric being added to it.
India was colonised by Britain for a very long time. As a result India is a democracy. I sincerely believe that the reason India is a democracy is because it was colonised by Britain. So, colonisation has not been that bad for India. If you ask me, I wish America comes today and colonise Iran, change it into an American state actually, and deprive me of my desire to have Azerbaijanis and other minority groups given special rights that they are entitled to (as I believe). I would be happiest. God forbid, this doesn’t mean anything but a hypothetical fantasy, because in reality nothing but war would come out of it.
So, what is all this nationalism about? Why are we fearful of foreigners anyway? What have we got that foreigners want to take away? Is it our oil? All Western states BUY oil from the Middle East. They don’t take it away by force. They buy it at market price. Is it our culture? What culture my Iranian brothers and sisters? Do we have culture? I didn’t see much of a culture in Iran and I was mostly living in Azerbaijan of Iran (so you cannot blame me of being anti-Fars, which I have never been).
Whenever I go back to Iran I still don’t see culture. What culture is that where you cannot trust almost anybody. They all act on your behind. Iranians love being dishonest. They brag about it. Iranians proudly talk about how they stole this and that, did this and that to another Iranian. And they do all this indiscriminately, whether the counterpart is a Fars, a Turks, or anything else. After having fooled or defrauded another Iranian, the Iranian Turk may say that he was dealing with an “annamaz Fars” and the Fars after having done the same thing may say that his counterpart was a “Torke khar”.
But that is irrelevant. They do all their dishonest and indecent acts indiscriminately. How many times have you heard Americans act and talk like this? Not often. Honesty is a Western virtue, while trust is an immense Western value.
So, what is all this obsession about Iran, Iranian culture, and protecting Iran against foreigners? When I write about the root causes of these problems Iranians get angry. When I write about the problems themselves, they get angry. Some of them actually agree with me but I know they are in the minority.
One of the root causes of Iranian backwardness is actually the simple belief of belonging to a superior race (Aryan race), and this has been what I have often talked about, and as a result insulted so many times.
Being an Iranian definitely isn’t about anything great. It is just a fact. It is an undeniable fact we need to live with. Another of the root causes of Iranians’ problems is not Islam, but the belief that it is Islam.
But this belief is not shared by the majority of Iranians, but by the majority of the Iranian diaspora, who have unfortunately evolved less than they could (I guess). What was Iran before Islam that it couldn’t be after? Let’s not forget that almost all cultural and scientific works that are out there, left to us today, from Iranians, have been achieved AFTER Islam. Most of them have been written in Arabic. Are we sure that there were many such works before Islam? I need proof. I haven’t seen much proof.
But one thing is clear, science evolved best under Arab Muslim patronage and it was written in Arabic by Arabs or non-Arabs, while literature evolved best under Turk Muslim patronage and it was written in Farsi by Persians or non-Persians. So, Muslims have done a lot of good. They did fall drastically behind the West ever since industrialisation, but that does not mean Islam brought misery to Iran and other places. That is simply running from realities.
I am not a religious person myself. I never go to mosque. I never pray or fest. These are personal issues. So, I hope I don’t get, again, accused of being paid by the Iranian Islamic regime. (how funny, I have been able to get paid by Israel, America, and also the IRI… wouldn’t be so bad if it was true).
Does Iran’s “glorious” history mean anything? Is that worthy of being protected against foreign plotters?
If it was up to me to decide I would have erased all mentions about Iran’s long history for a couple of hundreds of years in which Iranians would learn to live honest lives and work hard and build a modern society, believing that they are backward and relatively naive in their belief that they are different. But this can be nothing but a joke.
This is not Iran-bashing. This is a reality. I wouldn’t want anything bad for Iran, from my point of view, simply because I have my relatives there.
But we must first face realities before being able to move forward and improve things. I don’t know exactly which ones are most important or most urgent to address, but addressing them we should. We have blamed others for too long for the short-comings of Iran. And believing that Iranian or Persian culture, history, or alike are anything great to talk about, I would prefer talking about Iran’s present-day realities.
And that is because we are the way we are, intolerant, accusing, and not least, backward. This is not about each individual, but about the whole community. We have been unable to adopt Western values that have been far more superior. Instead of accepting freedom of expression, the Iranian diaspora, running away from their own short-comings, prefers to talk about how terrible Xerxes was shown in the movie 300. I’m sure he didn’t look much better than the guy who was shown in the film. Beside all the strange jewelry, he was actually a pretty good-looking guy.