Supporting Persian pride

Iranians are a proud people, and they have plenty of good reasons for pride in Persia's long and sophisticated history. The Mullahs, who think of patriotism as "idolatry," try to play on pride in Iran's history --- going back thousands of years before Muslims conquered Iran. But the Mullahs also go out of their way to destroy symbols and archeological remains of Persian history.

According to an AP story today, an Iranian Baha'i exile, Ehsan Yarshater,  has been working on an Encyclopedia Iranica for the past 30 years. Baha'is suffer persecution in Mullah-controlled Iran and everywhere else in the fundamentalist Islamist world. But Yarshater is dedicated to a definitive encyclopedia that "revels in Iran's greatness."

According to the article,
"The Christian concepts of heaven and hell originated in Iran. The Jewish holy Talmud is littered with Iranian words and ideas. And some Iranians cherish the Israeli city of Haifa as a sacred place.

The Iranian government bitterly opposes the encyclopedia, and the U.S. government backs it. More than half of the encyclopedia's budget comes from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, which has funded it as a project of major cultural significance since 1979 - the same year Iranian students occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

"Once completed it will be a magnificent gift to our children and the generations to come," said Yarshater, an Iran scholar at Columbia University in New York." (Italics added)
The only comment I would have is: Put it on the web! Let all Iranians read about the heights of Persian civilization, its generous view of other peoples, and its continuing relevance to the fate of Iran. Don't let the Mullahs steal Persian history --- and twist it to their own narrow-minded ends.

James Lewis blogs at
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