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The theft of Iran's culture, racial politics and the casting of 'The Prince of Persia'

Thursday, May 27, 2010 -- INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

By Sheda Vasseghi

Recently, the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Khamenei, upon visiting an international book exhibition and noting decorative Achaemenid statues representing pre-Islamic Iran, immediately ordered the removal of all such items or else the organizers would face serious problems. The Minister of Religious Affairs promptly removed the Achaemenid decorations which were so offensive to Khamenei.

Prince of Persia, the movie, is based on a video game by the same name
In related news, we hear that "some" people are "insulted" by the casting in the movie "The Prince of Persia". The problem seems to be that the casting for this film's lead went to a white male. The role of a prince from Persia (Iran), you see, was "originally envisioned for people of color."

As if stealing Iranian arts and sciences under the banner of Islam wasn't damaging enough to a nation that has been struggling for centuries to preserve its national identity; now "some" people are redefining the Aryan stock.

Iranians are Aryans, a branch of Indo-Europeans. They were not people of color. Therefore, casting a white male as a prince from Persia is correct. A nation's heritage such as Iran is not open for arbitrary changes or alterations to suit ignorant whims.

Some 200 years ago, misinformed Europeans traveling in the Middle East and noting a predominant Muslim faith coined a term for their arts and sciences. They labeled all sciences, literature, paintings, and architecture in the region as "Islamic arts and sciences."

This terminology is not only baseless, but offensive to the various Western Asian (Near Eastern or Middle Eastern) nations. These nations are home to people of various faiths. Its people formed the "cradle of civilization," and lived in the region centuries before Islam. Islam, a 7th century religion, expanded after its conquest of one of the two major powers in Western Asia and Europe, the Sasanian Persian Empire (224-651 AD).

The Sasanian Persian Empire was a continuation of the rich and resourceful Iranian culture that took shape with the coming of the Achaemenids (550-530 BC), the creators of the first world empire. Iranians, who had managed empires for over 12 centuries, continued to run the region under Moslem Arab overlords.

The progress of Iranian arts and sciences continued regardless of Islam or any other religious following. In other words, Islam had nothing to do with post-7th century Iranian contributions to human civilization.

Yet, 18th century European travelers, without any regard to Iranian national identity which is considered sacred by many as it dates back to at least 15th century BC, labeled Iranian artwork and sciences as "Islamic." They were unaware or uncaring as to the ramifications of such an irresponsible categorization spreading across European media and educational institutions.

Today museums and universities have "Islamic arts" as a topic of study while a predominately Christian Europe preserved each of its nations' unique heritage without labeling the entire European portfolio of arts and sciences as "Christian."

Many of the Middle Eastern artwork and sciences labeled "Islamic" are Iranian in origin. Yet, by mislabeling Iranian contributions to human civilization, its national heritage has been robbed since most people, who see the label "Islamic," mistakenly assume the subject is of Arab origin. It will take decades of research, political warfare, and funds to correct this grave error against Iranians on the part of the European "intellectuals" of 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, the fall of an Iranian nationalist, secular government in 1979 to an Islamocentric, anti-Iranian mullahcracy has perpetuated this egregious act.

The Western Civilization which was greatly influenced by Iranian heritage should not spread misconceptions about Iranian people and culture as they are both presently under attack by an Islamofascist regime in Tehran.

Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to on Iran’s Affairs.

This Articl published in the World Tribune this is a courtesy copy to the original article.








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