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The other Iran story: Re-engineering a nation's cultural DNA

 "By Sheda Vaseghi"

Monday, October 12, 2009

The ancient struggle between Iranianism and Islamism (Arab culture and philosophy) can best be seen by the recent national uprising of Iranian people versus an Arabized regime in Tehran.

There is no better evidence regarding the Islamic Republic's cultural genocide of Iran than its own textbooks.

In a trial teacher's handbook for a class entitled Dialogue of Civilizations, the Islamic Republic states its general intentions for introducing the world's cultures and civilizations. The class is an elective course and available to all high school students. After covering various cultures such as ancient Iran, Islamic world, Western, Chinese, and Indian, the teachers are to discuss relations among culture, civilization, and religion, including the reasons for the spread and popularity of Islamic civilization. The course will also discuss the degree of power and influence of the Western culture on the world.

According to the handbook, the interrelation among culture, civilization, and religion must be analyzed in accordance with four important areas: (1) economics; (2) politics; (3) behavior; and (4) thoughts and emotions. The Islamic Republic's political and social agenda is to dilute Iranian culture and heritage with Islam to facilitate its Arabization. This agenda is clearly seen when in relation to the Achaemenid Empire, the first world empire (550-330 BCE), the handbook introduces this significant Iranian civilization formed approximately 1300 years before the Moslem invasion by quoting the prophet of Islam.

The handbook uses Ferdowsi's SHAHNAMEH, the famous Iranian national epic, as reference for its statement that Iranians invented fire. The regime uses as historical teachings those portions of the SHAHNAMEH considered to be mythical and inspired by Iranian folktales. The regime's careful strategy in erasing important Iranian men and women from history is visibly noted in how the handbook names several mythical Iranian kings, but not those whose existence and deeds are backed by historical records and archaeological findings. For example, the Islamic republic quotes Darius the Great in the handbook without crediting him for the statement. The regime mentions that cuneiform tablets were found at Persepolis showing the Achaemenid society paid workers for manual labor, but conveniently leaves out a plethora of evidence about the female workers and supervisors including royal women, who owned and managed vast properties. Cyrus the Great's Bill of Rights cylinder and the Iranian ancient religion Zoroastrianism are not mentioned nor their effect on civilization.

Under the Sasanian Empire (224-651 CE), history records Iran's renaissance, but the Islamic Republic in maintaining its strategy of belittling ancient Iranian history and culture devotes half-a-page to this important era. The handbook instructs teachers that they should discuss how under Sasanian King Anushiravan (Khosrow I), Iran became the world's center for science and learning. Yet the handbook does not identify Anushiravan, the specific knowledge and science to which it is referring, or the fact that the Islamic world owes its knowledge of world teachings to Sasanian libraries containing translations of volumes of ancient books from different languages to Middle Persian (Pahlavi). In its continuous efforts to rewrite Iran's history to suit its political agenda, the Islamic Republic dares to claim that the uniquely Islamic taxation called "jaziyeh" which is a prejudicial "ransom" or "heavy infidel" taxation placed on non-Moslems has its roots in Iranian culture and comes from the Sasanian taxation system!

In covering the Islamic civilization, the handbook claims there is hardly any other civilization that can be compared to the amazing speed in which Islam spread across a vast territory. The handbook claims that Islam conquered the Sasanian Empire between 637-651 CE. It excludes the fact that it took Moslems three to four hundred years to subdue the region. Additionally, this is the first time a date has been presented in the handbook. By providing a date range for the Arab invasion, the students immediately note that in a short period of time, the invaders were allegedly able to conquer a vast territory, but because no time frame is provided for previously-discussed ancient Iranian civilizations, the students are unaware that Iran's pre-Islamic history spans 1300 plus years and, at one point, covered over 3 million square miles of territory.

The Islamic Republic names a few famous Iranian scientists after the Arab invasion of 7th century CE, but places them under the "Islamic world" suggesting that Islam had something to do with their achievements. It is exactly this lack of respect for intellectual property laws and anti-Iranian sentiments by Islamic regimes that take away credit due to Iranians for their national artistic and scientific accomplishments. Instead the Iranian accomplishments after the 7th century are thrown in with a homogenous "Islamic world." The handbook claims that under Islam everyone was given freedom of thought and exchange of ideas. This is quite humorous given the regime's current Islamofascist and misogynistic Constitution, and intolerant social set up dictated by the mullahs and physically enforced by paid thugs as witnessed live since the national uprising in June. The handbook states that Islam encourages its followers to search for knowledge without restrictions, because it is this gathering of universal knowledge that has allowed Islamic civilization, through grandeur and splendor, to present a viable and decisive legacy to humanity. This statement again confirms taking knowledge from others and placing it under "Islamic contributions."

The regime begins its introduction to Western civilization by stating that Western thinkers in referring to the world use the point of view of "the West and the rest!" The handbook explains that when these thinkers say "universal," they mean Westernization of the world. The Islamic Republic claims that the center of the Western world is the United States of America. Therefore, a universal Western culture is really the American culture. As examples of "superficial" and "unsophisticated" American culture, the handbook lists McDonald's, Coca Cola, and weekly publications of Times. The handbook uses Huntington as a source in describing how America as the only superpower in cooperation with England and France makes political and security decisions while with Japan economic decisions. The handbook gives many reasons for Western influence and power including its control over international monetary funds and investment market, the most advanced research and analysis tools, international waterways, technology, space exploration, international relations, and production of military weapons.

Although many Near Eastern cultures such as Iraq (ancient Mesopotamia), Egypt, Syria, and Palestine have lost their distinct pre-Islamic identities, Iranians have struggled for 14 centuries not to be part of the homogenous Islamic/Arab world.

Contrary to the Islamic Republic's statement, its Dialogue of Civilizations class is not to educate high school students about various cultures, but rather to glorify Islamic civilization at the expense of belittling and rewriting Iranian history and heritage while villainizing the West and specifically the U.S. The mullahs in Iran are systematically attacking Iran and the international community. This improper and incorrect "education" is exposing the Iranian children to emotional and intellectual abuse, and hinders their ability to compete in the Age of Information since they are taught lies, myths, superstitions, intolerance, prejudice, and religious indoctrination. In addition to other tools of oppression such as physical assault and torture of civilians, the regime uses its so-called "Department of Education" to attack Iran's most valued national investment — its future generations.

Sheda Vasseghi is a regular contributor on Iran affairs to and

To read original letters in the World Tribune please click here









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