Dear All,

I am compelled to send you this e-mail as I sense a real sense of urgency. As we speak, a whole new set of books questioning the veracity of Iran’s historical existence are being published. There is a new one by Alireza Asgharzadeh.

Asgharzadeh profoundly dislikes Iran and his views are wholly consistent with those activists who wish to carve up Iran into small mini-states. His new book is entitled:

Title: Iran and the Challenge of Diversity: Islamic Fundamentalism, Aryanist Racism, and Democratic Struggles

Author: Alireza Asgharzadeh
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (June 12, 2007)
ISBN-13: 978-1403980809

 I just received a copy of the text through a friend who (like myself) is concerned. In a nutshell, Asgharzadeh uses Sociological theory and paradigms to make the following cases:

(1) Iran is an imaginary construct.

Asgharzadeh links the late Edward Said’s “Orientalism” (which actually concerned itself mostly with Turco-Arab relations with the West) and claims that Iranian history as we know it is based on “Orientalist” scholarship – he labels these as “Aryanist” and “Indo-Europeanists”. In a sweep (by attaching academic-style references – like Brenda Shaffer), he has labelled ALL of Indo-European scholarship as “racist” and “Orientalist”. Interestingly, it seems as if Asgharzadeh is placing Sociological theory above anthropology, linguistics, and historiography, It is as if, Sociology alone is able to replace these other aforementioned disciplines. Here we see a case of ideology using “scientific” sociological theory to suppress other disciplines that produces data that contradict one’s views.

(2) Asgharzadeh subscribes to the conspiracy theory that the ancient world fabricated the history of Iran.

Again, he relies on a small set of “historical references”, but these are not primary sources. He makes no allusion to references in ancient Japan, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam – I also doubt if he reads Greek or Latin – he makes no references to the works of scholars such as Mazzini or Spatari (these are in Italian and not translated to English as of yet). He is also re-interpreting a select number of Greek and Roman references, among others. What is fascinating is that Asgharzadeh insists that the term “Aryan” is simply the application of western “Orietnal” scholars – yet fails to explain why the term keeps appearing in Greco-Roman sources such as Strabo, Herodotus or in archaeological sites such as Paikuli (Shapour I’s inscriptions of victory against Rome).

(3) He promotes the notion that the vast Majority of Iranian Azarbaijanis, Kurds and Iranian Arabs wish to separate from Iran.

Using sociological theory (while failing to appreciate the science of historiography), Asgharzadeh fails to provide any hard data to back up his assertions. A number of preliminary surveys have found these assertions by Asghar-Zadeh to be untrue.

Not surprisingly, one of the “reviewers” of Asgharzadeh’s book is Iran-hater Brenda Shaffer (see link to Amazon shown before below the book cover). Both Asghar-Zadeh and Shaffer have shot themselves in the foot. This is because both rely on the narratives (and creative fiction) of Nasser Pourpirar. You may wish to see the following link regarding Pourpirar in Wikipedia:

Nasser Pourpirar in Wikipedia

Here are a few quotes from that link:

He claims that construction of Persepolis was never finished [11] and the Achaemenid dynasty whom he considers as a group of ancient barbarian Slavicinvaders ended with Darius the Great, after they returned to their homeland in Eurasian steppes. The rest of the Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, Tahirid, Ghaznavid, Seljuqid, and Samanid dynasties according to Pourpirar were fabricated by historians of mostly Jewish background as part of a Jewish conspiracy .

This is fascinating. Brenda Shaffer (herself of Israeli descent) has often cited Pourpirar as “evidence” for her notions of questioning the legitimacy of Iran as state. It appears that in her zeal to discredit Iranian history, Shaffer is citing any source she can without carefully checking it first. She (like Asghar-Zadeh) have endorsed the views of an anti-Jewish fanatic. Note Pourpirar’s hatred of Iran and the Persian language (he was born in Tehran in 1940):

Regarding the importance of Arabic language for a predominantly Muslim country like Iran, he has stated that: “It is very unfortunate that we can not put the Persian language aside and replace it with the language of Koran. However the future of Iran is at the hand of Islamic Unity. Spreading Arabic language among Iranian youths and incorporating it more seriously into the education system […] can make a foundation for such Islamic Unity.” [10]

Pourpirar has reportedly praised Saddam Hussein, who followed the doctrines of Pan-Arabism and is disliked by Iranians and Kurds for killing millions of Iranians and Kurds, referring to Saddam as the “Great Arab hero” and the “symbol of resistance”.[10] Pourpirar is quoted saying: “Saddam is a hero of the Islamic movement against Zionism and if he is killed, like any other POW, he is a martyr at the hands of infidels. [11]

Asgharzadeh also writes for the Newspapers of the Republic of Azarbaijan. See the following sample below:

The Anatomy of Iranian Racism: Reflections on the Root Causes of South Azerbaijan’s Resistance Movement 
Baku Today Newspaper

Asgharzadeh is in the Department of Sociology at York University. This is alarming. We are now getting more and more historical revisionists (harboring a political agenda sympathetic to ethnic-conflict discourse) being allowed to teach in western academic mileaus just as Iranian programs in history correspondingly decline. This vacuum is allowing for historical revisionism to accelerate. 

Here is a small sample list of anti-Iran academics (there are many more):

Mehrdad Izady (Author of: Kurds: A Concise Handbook)
He has helped establish a “Kurdish Studies” (separate from the all-inclusive Iranian Studies which includes Kurdish studies) in the Czech Republic:
http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~siamakr/Kurdish/KURDICA/2002/2/Kurdczech.html

Brenda Shaffer (Author of: Borders and Bretheren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity)
Caspian Studies Program
Harvard University

There are many other venues being pushed into mainstream western academia aiming to reduce Iran as legacy (e.g. Arab Gulf Studies, Central Asian Studies, Azarbaijani Studies, etc.) thanks mainly to various lobbies harboring petroleum and geopolitical interests. The common aim of all of these “academics” and lobbies is to discredit Iran as a state and especially its history before Islam.

Regards

Kaveh Farrokh