The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


February 27, 2001

DON'T bring back Persia

I'm not sure how many times I've come across this 'name' argument but it never seems to go away ["Bring back Persia"]. Every time there is negative news from Iran, you get someone making an argument to change the name back to Persia.

Not surprisingly most requests come from Iranians abroad. I feel for them. I've been there. (I was in college, here in the U.S. during the hostage crisis. It wasn't fun!) But the reality is that Reza Shah asked other nations to call the country Iran, because Persia - at that time - represented an old and backward nation.

Persia was synonymous with carpets and camels. A nation that had lost most of its territory to the British, the Russians and the Ottomans. A sick nation with no industry and a literacy rate that was perhaps in single digits.

Ironically, the arguments for changing the name were no different from the ones being made today. I guess one of the great things about having two names is that we can simply switch when the need arises. Like some worn out shirt we can throw away the old and wear the other, hoping that enough time has passed to make it once again fashionable.

True to our nature - we yearn to take the easy way out. Woe to the poor country that only has one name. The citizens of that nation have to actually work to improve their country - and thus its name. They, have no other option.

Sassan Behzadi


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