Friday, May 4, 2007

Iran and its Minorities

A while back, I wrote an entry about the tragic life of Mohammed Mossadegh, and mentioned that Iran has a millenia long history of religious tolerance that belies some of the wilder claims made about its government in recent times.

Last week the Christian Science Monitor published an article on Iran's Jews. When the Iranian Revolution began, Iran's Jewish community sent a delegation to the Ayatollah Khomeini, and essentially asked him if they were going to have "problems." He replied that he did not approve of the State of Israel, but that had no bearing on the fact that the Koran enjoined him to tolerate Jews and Christians, and that he had no intention of deviating from the Koran. Many left Iran nonetheless; many of those that stayed reported that they preferred Iran after the Revolution to Iran before the Revolution, when corruption, prostitution, and more had been notoriously widespread. The war between Iran and Iraq, of course, was a tragedy that benefited neither Iran or Iraq.

As the article correctly reports, Iran has reserved seats in its parliament for its Jewish minority, and, if memory serves me right, also for its Christian and Zoroastrian minorities. On the other hand, the Baha'is, who claim to adhere to a new and improved brand of Shi'a Islam, not so unsurprisingly do suffer brutal persecution.

I could not disagree more with some the antics of Iran's current president, which are in exceedingly poor taste; all the same, I feel that it would be disastrous to misreport an unfortunate situation and imply that there is no solution but war. Every country will always have a few nuts, sometimes in high office, but as long as a tradition of tolerance is alive, things are not quite that dire. Perhaps the problem to focus on would be the plight of the Baha'is...

Without further ado, here's the article.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was once in Aghdamar (or Akhtamar as the Armenians and Kurds call it) and it is a really impressive place.
The name comes from an Armenian legend of a princess called Tamar. She fell in love with a commoner who would swim to the island to see her everynight and she waited for him holding a fire so that he could see his way to the island. One day the king got to know about this relationship and smashed the pot with the fire when the commoner was in the middle of the lake. While he was drowning, he shouted again and again: Akh, Tamar! and that's why the island is called so. It's said that some nights you can still hear him calling Tamar.