It’s been a while that I have come to realize that we Iranians have always used the term ‘European’ when making reference to a civilized, well-mannerd and well educated person. Sentences such as: That family has always been very European, or, he has a very European culture, etc… Having lived in Europe for decades and having spent couple of years in North America I can understand why even Americans cherish their European background , such as the Italian-Americans and many others. There’s no doubt about it, Europe is called the old continent, where democracy as we know it was born. Its rich history and diverse cultural aspect goes far beyond anything North America will ever be. Therefore, it’s very understandable that we Iranians, see Europe as almost everyone else in the world sees it. However, this ‘European’ idea has been very generalized, up to the point of not considering that each conuntry is in it is really different and that there’s a huge difference between the mediterranean states and the nordic states, for instance…When we Iranians (mostly the vast majority in Iran itself) refer to Europe, we’re refering to the ‘very best’ of it, we’re talking about the beautiful upper class areas of Paris, Rome and London among other cities. After all, these are the very places most tourists including Iranians tend to visit. But then, are these countries just that? Is France like the very best of Paris? Is Spain the very best of Madrid? Are all European individuals the ‘image’ that we have of their countries? Do they always behave themselves as ‘European’? My personal experiences there, after 2 decades tell me otherwise, although I should point out that I lived in one specific Mediterranean country, with one or two years elsewhere in the continent. I grew up in places and with people, that although very good and decent souls, didn’t always matched the ‘image’ I had of Europe. The day to day life in a not so multicultural country tells you a lot about it. Seeing severe arguments between individuals for a parking space, seeing fights between children at school, people using insults and bad words against each other at soccer games, painting obscene grafitties and images on the walls, using innapropiate language in front of ladies, neighbours having daily fights over the stupidest things you could imagine, are just part of life but the European life. During those years I met many French citizens who claimed they would never go back to the fu…ing France, and they would go on about the reasons they so much disliked their own country. I met many other English folks, who maybe less emotional about their country, would never go back to live because they’re fed up with rain and lack of sunshine. The belgian who didn’t like the bilingualism in Belgium, the Dutch who missed mountains and hills and the Italian who disliked many areas of Italy for having ‘dishonest’ or ‘cold’ people. The Catalonian who considers the rest of Spain, a bunch of lazy charlatans, the Basque who whould stage large demonstrations against the ‘fascist’ Spain, whith millions of Euros in damages to public property. The ultra-right kids who whould kill a poor black man near a soccer stadium, because their low-income neighbourhood’s culture doesn’t like blacks. Massive and bloody clash with riot police over the stupidet of things such as having lost a soccer game. Having and entire family, the dad, mom, boy and little girl expressing very loudly the worst insults you can imagine against the poor kid who accidentaly injured their son during a basketball game. The national slection coach, calling a black player of his own team, a fu..ing nigger, on TV. Having the big brother as the most watched tv programme in the country for years, where the lowest of low (culturally speaking) become the national star. Having not only the average and well tarveled citizens, but the Italian prime minister Berllusconi, referring to whatever is not the west as ‘retarded and awkward cultures’ as opposed to the ‘superior’ western one, on public television. Ignoring many rules, be these traffic, smoking or simply noise level rules. Not renting your property to well educated and well spoken, employed foreign families, with the excuse of ‘our own first’ not allowing poor African children in your son’s school, fearing they ‘corrupt’ your son. Now, outside Europe, having two hocky players beating the bejesus out of each other while everyone enjoying it, as it’s part of the ‘game’. Back to Europe, hanging roosters and chiken from ropes and having them beheaded by horse riders. Torturing and finally killing a bull and doing it as a national game. Having the rudest and agressive police guarding the famous city of Paris, where the visible ‘minorities’ (actually native born French citizens of African descent) are being targeted, kept unemployed, up to the point their riots reaches bizarre proportions. Having right-wing national parties, making statements here and there, that resemble the speeches of the national socialist party of Germany during the second world war. Superticious people who claim seeing the face of Jesus here and there, bizarre miracles (usually in the poorest of the regions) Having catholic priests preaching racism and hatred (I mean it) Priests refusing to marry christians with muslims.. Please note, that I have just mentioned some of the things that I personally found out of place for the so called Europe. I’m not judging these countries, nor these are the only things I see. There’re many good human beings, honest and pationate citizens in each and every country of Europe. They have managed to creat a common space the EU, with some common laws and interesting system. These countries have accepted refugees from all over the world, have stood by international legality (at least in appearance) and have abolished death penalty, something very valuable in itself. However, I’m just trying to point out our not so realistic concept of the ‘European’. It’s true that Iran is in bad shape (I personally see Islam as the root cause of all our illneses), it’s true that is being run by a bunch of thugs that do not represnt us at all. It’s true that they have managed to impose a way of life and codes of conduct that make any normal Iranian ashamed in front of westerners, it’s true that we are not in the position of giving opinions about others, yes that’s true, however, my people (not the Iranian government) are one of the kindnest and most polite beings you’d ever come across, they do pay attention to their social behavior, they are compasionate too, they do value beauty, they are the only Middle-Eastern and Asian people capable of amazing the public and juries of the best European film festivals, with the lowest of budgets and limitaions beyond anyone can imagine. I haven’t met any foreigner that while visiting Iran hasn’t been amazed by its hospitality, vitality. My people, aren’t rude, bad mouthed or loud. My people do care about their guests, honestly and whole heartedly. They are interested in knowing the world, in learning languages, in learning sports, in nature and in social life. While being guest they do carry flowers as a sign of friendship and respect. With all the respect I have towards our dear Turkish neighbours, my people wouldn’t do just anything to be ‘European’ although they might have the wrong concept about themselves and Europe, perhaps that’s the case, but my people are Iranian above all, they are surrounded by unfriendly countries, forgotten and sometimes even betrayed by the Europe and the west, taken to war by force, isolated, humiliated by their rulers, nobody has listened to their cries for help. They were the only ones in the Middle East who offered their condolences for tragic events of 9/11. They love poetry, music and arts, throughout the history they produced the finest poets, the finest writers and scientists. If there’s any wrong doing on their part, they’ve to be understood. I personally have always had a hard time understanding some of the European attitudes mantioned above, simply because they claim being the first world, the civilized west. We Iranians are neither west nor east, we are Iranian and that’s our Persian essence and that’s what’s makes us unique. Unlike others, we’ll work and earn our place in the world, but it will be a our place, that’s in the making, it wouldn’t the first time that we’ve started from scratch in circumstances others would have vanished. As one of my friends always says: In ham migozarad.
May God bless Iran