Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, struggling for independence and sovereignty from successive regimes’ oppression for 92 years to date, have long been the subject of virulent racism, both by the current regime and by its predecessors, whose supremacist anti-Arab bigotry is one feature that has not changed, regardless of the rulers.
This was underlined once again on Wednesday, June 28th by the decision of Iman Pahlavi, the exiled daughter of the former Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, to admiringly publish a deeply racist a poem in Farsi on her Facebook page, which she claimed was originally written by the renowned classical Iranian poet, Abu ‘l-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi, better known as Ferdowsi, who is still celebrated by today’s Iranian regime.
A translation of some of the lines in the poem which give a flavour of its overall hateful racist message reads as follows:
‘Whatever an Arab is, he will be my enemy.
The Arab is malevolently-intentioned, bad-tempered and evil.
Since [the time] when the Arab wars took over Ajam [Persia]
Every day of the Iranians has become dark.
After drinking the milk of camels and eating lizards, Arabs have come to wish for the Persians’ crown.
Spit on you, o wheel of time or fate.’
With no apparent sense of irony, Iman Pahlavi is involved with the National Council of Resistance for Iran, which campaigns for democracy and human rights in Iran and supports the Syrian and other Arab people’s right to freedom, although her own support for human rights seems selective in the extreme. The ubiquity of racist anti-Arab sentiments like these amongst many Iranians, and the fact that successive regimes, including the current one, have continued to promote such bigotry rather than discouraging it, leads most Ahwazis to conclude that, no matter which rulers have power in Iran, Ahwaz must have independence and sovereignty in order to escape this malign and hateful prejudice and have true freedom. Anti-Arabism ingrained into the workplace, printed in newspapers, espoused on the television, spoken about unabashedly by regime officials, and it’s touted by intellectuals. Everyone in Iran has learned that being anti-Arab is a prestigious trait which is essential to maintaining the facade of Iran/Persian nationalism.
The Iranian myth of one unified Persian identity directly results from over 100 years of the ultra-nationalist supremacist ideology that maintained staunch resistance to any sort of critical analysis. No historical example of a fair coexistence and respect for the rights of national minorities in Iran can be found. As such, there is nothing currently embedded within Iran’s history that supports the idea that one unified Iran – with all its ethnic minority nations – is even possible. The majority of Persians are wholly unfamiliar with, and even hostile towards, problems that minorities in Iran currently face. A lack of effort on the part of the Persian-speaking intellectuals to promote a culture of tolerance and respect is one of the major reasons Persians remain so overwhelmingly hostile. It has also become the new normal for minorities to be left unrepresented in important sectors of life such as the media and education. In Iran, Persians are indoctrinated from birth to believe they are racially superior beings. This idea is supported not only by their communities and families but also in all types of media. Minorities in the media are presented as less intelligent, more violent, and therefore less worthy of equal rights that Persians are granted without question.
Justice and equality and eradicating of racism are the primary demands of the minorities languishing under the rule of Persian-supremacist Shiite Iranian regime. Without the active presence of justice in all its forms – political, social, cultural, and etc – it will remain impossible for any Iranian government to achieve coexistence among all the country’s peoples.