Iran rediscovers value of Persian roots

Over the weekend, Iran hosted the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to celebrate Nowruz, the ancient Persian new year marking the first day of spring that is celebrated by some 300 million people around the world who together form an important cultural bloc.

Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad used the occasion to emphasize the importance of Nowruz in fostering a global climate of peace and cooperation. In light of a recent United Nations General Assembly resolution marking March 21 as International Nowruz Day, Iran has now set its eyes on spreading the cause of celebrating Nowruz on an expansive basis.

“It is a cause of joy that through collective cooperation Nowruz

became global,” Ahmadinejad stated, adding that “observing Nowruz will not only promote cultural values, but it will also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect.” Iran has issued a new postage stamp to commemorate the UN’s Nowruz Day, this as part of a concerted effort to maximize the benefits garnered by Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage.

By all indications, this represents a cultural evolution in contemporary post-revolutionary Iran dominated by the Islamist discourse. Over the past 31 years, in the complex interplay of Iran’s dualistic, part Islamic, part pre-Islamic culture, the government has prioritized the Islamic and, yet, increasingly has discovered the trans-Iran potenti…

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