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Read with due care

Reader comment on item: Iran Is More than Persia

Submitted by Malcolm (Israel), Sep 17, 2021 at 05:16

Despite my criticism of Shaffer's pamphlet (see earlier comment), I would recommend its reading, but with caution, because it contains a great deal of useful information about recent developments. Caution because, besides its underestimation of Persian as a shared cultural element among almost all Iranians, her formulations are sometimes also misleading in detail.
Thus Mr Pipes ascribes to Shaffer the claim that the regime "prohibits instruction in local languages." The claim is false. Article 15 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressly states that "the use of local and national languages is free (estefâdeh âzâd ast) in printed matter and the mass media and teaching their literature in schools (tadris-e adabiyât-e ânhâ dar madâres), alongside the Persian language." Shaffer (p. 20) is aware of Article 15 but misleadingly omits the very word "teaching" in quoting it. She also wrongly states that Article 16 "guarantees the right" to teach Arabic. Article 16 mandates the teaching of Arabic (bâyad tadris shavad) to all schoolchildren. The Persian text of the Constitution can be found here: https://www.lu.ac.ir/uploads/123456_20436.pdf
Shaffer notes elsewhere that the teaching of local languages in universities has significantly increased in recent years and that there have been numerous protests in the Majles (Parliament) and in the Persian media against the mistreatment and maligning of minorities. A significant unanswered question, therefore, is whether the regime's manipulated exclusion of reformers (eslâhtalabân) from the 2021 Majles will also block this mechanism for addressing minority grievances. If so, the potential of the grievances to promote actual separatism, rather than just intensifying general opposition to the regime, could accelerate.
By the way, although most Iranian Kurds speak Sorani, others speak three other varieties of Kurdish. Because the four varieties are about as mutually intelligible as the Romance languages, the language shared by Kurds from different areas, too, may in practice be Persian.

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