Nov 1, 2009,
The Mullahs' Schools of Social Ineptness and Backwardness
October 29th is the International Day of Cyrus the Great (600/576-530 BCE) marking the anniversary of his issuing the first known declaration of human rights. This 2500-year-old document, a reflection of Iranian social values, differentiates the ancient Iranian conquerors from their contemporaries.
In the 21st century, however, under the regime of the Islamic Republic, the textbooks not only reek of religious indoctrination and superstition as well as gross misrepresentation of Iran’s history and culture, but their lack of sophistication and support for social ineptness should be offensive and alarming to Iranian parents, who are overwhelmingly modern and progressive.
In the sixth and seventh grade social studies textbooks, the regime emphasizes social groups and a member’s responsibilities to these groups. Although in a very clever fashion, the Islamic Republic throws in the obvious social needs in family life, banking, city management, and the post office, its over-emphasis of belonging to a group, role and duties to the group, and self-sacrifice for the group is unyielding.
As part of religious indoctrination, in the sixth grade social studies book, a picture of the founder of the Islamic Revolution Khomeini surrounded by dozens of hands reaching out to touch him is shown to the students asking them to explain what the picture conveys regarding the people’s needs in that particular situation. The only sentence found in both textbooks combined for tri-lingual translation purposes was “I love God.”
All pictures regarding daily activities at home such as eating, sleeping, and reading show family members sitting on the floor. There is no furniture in these pictures. Setting aside this blatant social ineptness taught by the regime probably because of their misguided belief that furniture is part of “Westernization,” Iranians have always had furniture. The Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) royal tents taken on campaigns were famous for containing the same luxury and practical items used in their homes. According to Greek sources, when Alexander entered Cyrus the Great’s tomb, there was a couch and a table in the vault of the idolized king. The Islamic Republic, however, in its efforts to shove Iranian culture to prehistoric era, has removed the notion of household furnishings from their teachings.
Not surprisingly, all activities and groups depicted are gender-based. Girls sew and boys solve problems! The regime shows no groups that include both men and women unless they are a family. In that case, very clearly and specifically, the regime puts the father or grandfather at the center or head of the members while directly confirming the dominant male role in family life. When the textbooks discuss family problems, they refer to the father as the main decision-maker albeit at times he consults other family members. The textbooks are critical or judgmental towards certain families, who may not live or organize their lives according to the regime’s teachings. The regime is so intrusive and meddling in people’s lives that its textbooks go so far as teaching children how to organize their homes!
The textbooks emphasize the need and importance of a father in a family by repeatedly telling the students that some families, who do not have a father, are less fortunate and in such cases, the mother has to become the head of the family. The textbooks audaciously assume that families without father-figures are aware of this “deficiency,” but they should nevertheless be respected since the mothers are forced to take on both the maternal and paternal roles in raising united and successful children alone.
When the textbooks refer to the community as a whole helping the less fortunate or victims of natural disasters, they refer to the people of Iran as “our Moslem people,” and their duty as Moslems to help their fellow countrymen. Once again the Islamic Republic ignores the fact that there are non-Moslem Iranians, and helping others has nothing to do with Islam.
When the textbooks give examples of national holidays and celebrations, the regime exclusively uses Islamic holidays or those relating to the Islamic Revolution ignoring 2500 years of Iranian national traditions and celebrations. The textbooks glorify the “Basijis” when discussing the importance of groups and their role in society. The Basijis are a volunteer militia founded by Khomeini after the 1979 revolution. Theoretically, they take orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Supreme Leader (currently, Khamenei). These are the same forces unleashed on Iranian civilians since June following the popular uprisings against the Islamic Republic regime and their fraudulent elections. They are the same forces seen beating, torturing, arresting, raping, and murdering unarmed civilians during peaceful protests. According to the textbooks, Basiji offices are usually in or near mosques, and they are organized, active, and useful groups whose members work very well together. The textbooks advise the students that joining such groups would allow them to be involved in community affairs.
The textbooks list the responsibilities of a member to his/her group as: (1) consultation with other members; (2) sense of duty; (3) cooperation; (4) organization; (5) follow instructions of the leader; (6) standing strong against problems; and (7) self-sacrifice. The emphasis is on self-sacrifice for the benefit of the group as a whole. It is difficult to ignore the regime’s broader goals in dedicating two textbooks in two years to teach children about the importance of groups, sacrificing for the group, and taking orders from the leaders.
Clearly, in addition to preparing children for militia training against “enemies” of Islam and the revolution, the mullahs teach Iranian children that the government has to meddle in every aspect of their lives including what is considered the ideal way to form a family and organize a household. In the 21st century, the mullahs teach Iranian children to reject basic social mannerisms based on their misconception that it is Western influence except, of course, for those modern Western tools deemed necessary to carry out the regime’s warped Islamofacist agenda such as know-how and usage of various weapons.
Sheda Vasseghi has a Masters in Ancient History-Persia, and is a regular contributor on Iran’s Affairs. She is a member of persepolis3d.com and Azadegan Foundation.
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