January 9, 2001
You are dead wrong
As I read these letters about race and racism, I am flabbergasted about
what these Iranians think makes them Iranian. I haven't been in Iran for
more than 10 years now. But the Iran I remember consisted of Turks, Persians,
Gilakis, Arabs, Christians, Jews and many other ethnic and religious groups.
Am I the only one that remembers this?
Please remember that Iran is bigger than Tehran! Being Iranian means
so many things. And it is not limited to the Shi'ite Muslim religion and/or
the Persian tongue. Have we really forgotten who we are?
The one thing I love about being Iranian is the fact that I can have
Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish, Assyrian and Arab friends all within Iran.
and they are no less or no more Iranian than I am.
I remember as a child my mother explaining to me, during a drive from
Tehran to Bandar Abbas, what would remain of Iran if we decided it between
the ethnic groups within Iran. Gilan would become its own country. Kurds
in Iran would join other Kurds and form their own nation. Armenians would
join Armenia. Turks could become part of Turkey. Baluchestan has enough
identity to become its own country. Hormozgan could be the next UAE, and
so on. By the time my mom and I got done we came to the conclusion that
only Fars and Tehran were left. But eventually we even found a new destination
for Fars as well.
The point I am trying to make is that being Iranian is not about being
Shi'ite or speaking Persian. Being Iranian is being unified as one, and
being hospitable to others.
While we are on the subject, remember the old Silk Route -- the route
from Constantinople (Istanbul) right across Persia to China? Iranians have
been known as tradesmen along this route for centuries.
The reason we have such a vivid history is our interactions with Arabs
and other nations. And if you think that after all these interactions,
being Iranian means being of pure Aryan blood you are dead wrong! Think
next time you decide to identify yourself as Persian!