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Debunked speculation

Reader comment on item: Iran Is More than Persia

Submitted by Malcolm (Israel), Sep 12, 2021 at 16:56

It is only outsiders having a limited familiarity with Iranian history and culture who, from time to time, come up with speculation that Iran may soon splinter into a profusion of minorities.

While Persian is the mother tongue of about half the population, today almost all Iranians are Persian speakers because for a thousand years Persian has been the language of culture and literacy of the whole area. The only minority of any significant size is the Azeris, about one sixth of Iranians, but precisely the Azeris are highly represented in the regime, starting with Khamenei himself, who is the scion of an Azeri religious dynasty.

Apart from 1.6 million Arabs, who are a minority even in Khuzestan, the mother tongue of the rest, including the Kurds, is one Iranian language or another, making Persian their lingua franca, since their local culture is in some cases just oral folklore. Persian is also grammatically simpler and easier to earn than most Iranian languages. About 90% of the population is Twelver Shia for whom the mystical Persian poetry of Rumi, Hafez and Saadi is part of their religious identity. Chiefly the Kurds are Sunni, but the Safavids solved the Kurdish problem centuries ago by moving half of the Kurds to the far northeastern corner of Iran.

And because the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi tells of a perennial struggle between Iranians and Turks, yet descended from two brothers, it became a fundamental document for the Turkic peoples of the area who had no comparable ancient literary tradition of their own. Ferdowsi's patron was himself a Persianate Turk who spread Persian cultural influence by conquest to India; hence the Persian element that predominates in literary Urdu. Also modern Iranian pop singers of any ethnicity use the colloquial Persian of Tehran. So although opposition to the regime is spreading in all areas, it has little to do with ethnicity, but almost everything to do with shared contempt for the regime and a shared Persian culture.


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