Journal Article on Western Persephobia

The Persian Heritage journal has published an article on Persephobia (in two parts) written by Kaveh Farrokh, Sheda Vasseghi and Javier Sánchez-Gracia:

The introductory segments of the article(s) expostulate the following:

Professor Avram Noam Chomsky (political scientist, linguist, social critic and philosopher) noted in an interview on August 25, 2018 that the American “… hatred of Iran is such a deep-seated part of modern American culture. To eradicate it is going to be very hard.” This antipathy is defined as Persophobia (or anti-Iranism) which is prejudice, hostility, and animosity against (1) Iranians (2) the Persian language and wider Iranian culture and (3) the Persian (and wider Iranian) historical and cultural legacy in Islamic, Turkish, Arabian, European, Indian and Asian civilizations. There are plenty of examples of Persophobia or anti-Iranism in Western media outlets. These include Ann Coulter’s reference to Iranians as “ragheads (CNS News, Feb.13, 2006), with a cartoon by the Columbus Dispatch Newspaper (Sept.4, 2007) portraying the country of Iran as a sewer out of which emanate cockroaches (presumably Iranian people). This is surprisingly parallel to the Persophobic propaganda of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein which referred to Iranians and Jews as being equivalent to flies. Several Western government officials have continually expressed profound Persophobic sentiments. What is of significance here is that this discourse makes no distinction between the people of Iran versus the pan-Islamist regime currently ensconced in Tehran. … Western policy makers routinely pathologize Iranians at the DNA level …

A fantasy portrayal of Persian Immortals in the “300” movies – In one of the earlier scenes of the first “300” movie, Spartan King Leonidas holds a dying boy who, in reference to the invading Achaemenid host, states softly that the Persians “ … came from the blackness …” implying that “the Persians” are literally “evil”. It would appear that portraying Iranians as monsters, troglodytes, degenerates, and demons is seen as innocent “artistic entertainment”, however other nationalities are exempt from this “art form” as this would be deemed as “tasteless and politically incorrect” and would be regarded as a “hate crime”. For more see … The “300” Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction

The article(s) further avers:

Persophobia has also permeated into print literature, media and entertainment venues. While a virtual cornucopia of examples can be provided, note Jeffrey Ludwig’s essay in the American Thinker (November 10, 2014): “There is no … tradition of rationality in Iran.  They are a deeply disorganized, primitive people …  crude … devoid of … grace, love, faith, or hope. … Deception, glib talking, and sycophantic posturing … hatefulness, rage, and utterly evil intentions … is the Iranian norm.” Excepting extreme right-wing and white supremacist outlets, would such literature have been printed if this had been directed towards any other (non-Iranian) ethnic and religious groups? It would appear that when it comes to one singular group (Iranians), the machinations of human rights and political correctness in Western print outlets stand in abeyance. 

Adam Purinton, 51, who was charged with the first-degree murder of two Indian nationals (Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani) at a restaurant in Olathe, Kansas on February 22, 2017 (Source & above photo: AP). Purinton had in fact mistaken the two victims as Iranians. Interestingly Purinton had specifically stated that he had shot two Iranian people (see BBC News report (February 28, 2017) “Olathe, Kansas, shooting suspect ‘said he killed Iranians'”), however mainstream media outlets such as CNN misrepresented his statement by replacing “Iranian” with the contrived term “Middle Eastern” (a 20th century geopolitical invention by English statesmen). It is unclear as to why CNN’s intent was to misrepresent (or not mention) accurate information. One possibility is that CNN’s intent (an analysis which they would most likely disagree with) was to prevent viewers from seeing Iranians as ordinary people and victims of hate crimes. Purinton is described as having shouted “terrorist” and “get out of my country” just before he shot his victims.

Another observation, especially with respect to the Anglo-European perspective towards the Persian language is as follows:

From the outset of the establishment of their rule in India, the British attitude towards Iran was ambivalent at best, and unfavorable towards the Persian language in particular. The English Education Act of 1835 essentially banned the teaching of Persian in India and its official use in Indian courts. Up to this time, Indians of diverse backgrounds (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc.) were able to rely on Persian as a common Lingua Franca. Eliminating Persian was instrumental for the solidification of British rule over the Indian subcontinent. India’s large and diverse population was now also cut off from a wide swathe of Persian-speakers in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran. To further weaken the bonds between India’s Hindus, Muslim, Sikhs, etc. the British East Company also supported the promotion of extremist Islamist cults seeking to eliminate Persian and Indian cultural influences.

Shattering Eurocentric Stereotypes: Iranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 CE). Western media and Eurocentrist academics have worked hard to block such images from appearing in mainstream Western culture (Picture courtesy of Shahyar Mahabadi). For more on this topic see The Women of Persia

Remnants of a Centuries-old structure Discovered in Northwest Iran

The news report “Remnants of centuries-old structure found in northwest Iran” was originally posted in the Tehran Times on October 2, 2019. the version published below has been slightly edited from the original version posted in Tehran Times.

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Archaeologists have recently unearthed a vast centuries-old structure during excavation in Rab’-e Rashidi, a 14th-century educational complex in East Azarbaijan province, northwest Iran. Senior Iranian archaeologist Bahram Ajorlou said on Wednesday:

Remnants of a vast structure, measuring some 3,600 square meters, have been found in six archaeological trenches in Rab’-e Rashidi, where an excavation and restoration project is underway … The newly discovered structure is estimated to date from the 8th century AH (1299 CE – 1397 CE) to 10th century AH (1495 CE – 1591 CE) and it also bears fragments of tilework, which date back to the 8th century AH”.

The archaeologists have also discovered three stages of wall architecture, evidence of industrial activities. They have acquired some data from archaeobotanical researches, Ajorlou concluded.

A frontal view of the Rab’-e Rashidi site in Iran’s East Azarbaijan province (Source: Tehran Times)

The third round of excavation and restoration work is carried out by a panel of international cultural heritage experts, archaeologists, and restorers from Iran, the German Archaeological Institute, the Otto-Friedrich University in Bamberg, and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Center in collaboration with Tabriz Islamic Art University completed the first phase of the international project to lay the groundwork for UNESCO recognition.

Archaeological speculations, geophysical surveys, 3D laser scans, and endoscopy of the ancient structure were carried out during the first phase.

Situated in the northwestern city of Tabriz, Rab’-e Rashidi includes several archaeological layers that date from Ilkhanid, Safavid and Qajar eras. It is said that students from Iran, China, Egypt, and Syria studied there under the supervision of physicians, intellectuals, scientists and Islamic scholars.

The ancient complex embraces a paper factory, a library, a hospital (Dar-al-Shafa), a Quranic center (Dar-al-Quran), residential facilities for teachers, students’ quarters and a caravanserai amongst other facilities.

Iran is considering the possible inscription of the site on the UNESCO World Heritage list by 2025.

Documentary Film Production: the UNESCO Sassanian Fortress in Darband

Pejman Akbarzadeh is making a new documentary about the Sassanian fortress Darband in Daghestan, which is the largest known (pre-Islamic) Iranian defensive structure in Caucasus. Despite being registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the latter remains (excepting among specialized scholars) remarkably unknown internationally, even among contemporary Iranians.

A view of a section of Darband in winter season (Source: Public Domain).

The Persian Heritage Foundation, founded in the 1980s by the late Ehsan Yarshater (1920-2018; one of the primary editors of the Encyclopedia Iranica) has agreed to cover 50% of the production costs. Pejman will be traveling to Daghestan in October 2019 in order to film the fortress and to interview Murtazali Gadjiev (The Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Daghestan Scientific Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences).

More support however is needed in order to sustain the remaining costs of this important project. For more information on supporting this project on Crowdfunding, click here …

A view of a section of Darband in the summertime (Source: Public Domain).

Pejman’s previous project, was the successful documentary on the Sassanian archway of Taghe Kasra (Taq Kasra) and its critical situation in Iraq. The film has been screened at various museums, universities and international conventions around the world. This documentary film has been cited as an “impressive film” by the BBC.

Journal Article: Caucasian Albanian warriors in the armies of pre-Islamic Iran

The HISTORIA I ŚWIAT academic journal has published the following article by Kaveh Farrokh, Javier Sánchez-Gracia (HRM Ediciones, Zaragoza, Spain), and Katarzyna Maksymiuk (Siedlce University, Poland):

Farrokh, K., Sánchez-Gracia, J., & Maksymiuk, K. (2019). Caucasian Albanian warriors in the armies of pre-Islamic Iran. HISTORIA I ŚWIAT, 8, pp.21-46.

The article discusses the important role of ancient Albania, an ancient country in the Caucasus (in the modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan, first labelled with this appellation in May 1918) in the history of Iran. Albanian cavalry was serving with the later Achaemenid armies of Darius III (r. 336–330 BCE) at the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE).

An Albanian-Scythian cavalry commander from the late Achaemenid era (Source: Pinterest). Cavalry of this type from Albania fought for Darius III against Alexander at the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE).

Albania was transformed into a Sassanian province by Šāpūr I (c. 253) with the Albanians (notably their cavalry) becoming increasingly integrated into the battle order of the Sassanian Spah (army).

Book cover of “The Siege of Amida” authored by Kaveh Farrokh, Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Javier Sánchez-Gracia (2018) DC – click here to download in pdf from Academia.edu … The above image is a recreation by Ardashir Radpour of a Sassanian Savaran knight of the Hamharzan who were often supplied with the highest quality weaponry. Elite Albanian knights fighting alongside the Savaran would have resembled their comrade in arms with respect to attire, equipment and battle tactics. The above book was displayed at the 2018 ASMEA (Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa) Conference’s LSS (Library of Social Sciences) display in Washington DC.

All along the Caspian coast the Sassanians built powerful defense works, designed to bar the way to invaders from the north. The most celebrated of these fortifications are those of Darband in Caucasian Albania.

A view of the Darband Wall (known commonly as Derbent; cited as Krevar in local dialects) in Daghestan, Northern Caucasus (Courtesy of Associates of Eduard Enfiajyan).  The origins of the wall of Darband are generally attributed to Kavad I (r. 488-496, 498-530 CE) who after a two-year war (489-490 CE) ejected Khazar invaders rampaging Armenia and Caucasian Albania (modern Republic of Azerbaijan). Construction of the wall was continued by Khosrow I (r. 530-579 CE) and by the late 6th century CE, this had become a system of walls connecting a series of fortresses. Total length of the Darband wall is nearly 70 km, spanning the territory from the Caucasus Mountains to the Caspian Sea. The Wall of Darband or Derbent became a major military fortress shielding Iranian territories in the Caucasus and the historical Azarbaijan below the Araxes River from nomadic attackers along the northern Caucasus, most notably the Khazars.

Albania remained an integral part of the Sasanian army well into the empire’s final days as evidenced by the military exploits of Albanian regal prince Javanshir (Persian: Young Lion) and his cavalry who fought against the Arabo-Islamic invaders at the Battle of Qadissiya (637 CE) and after. Javanshir was a member of the Iranian Mehranid family related to the Parthian clans.

A copy of the 7th century CE statue of the Caucasian Albanian Prince Javanshir (Persian: Young Lion) discovered in Nakhchevan, southern Caucasus (the original statue is housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg – the above copy of the original is in the Republic of Azerbaijan History Museum) (Source: Urek Meniashvili in Public Domain).

22nd Gran Paradiso Film Festival – World Wildlife Film Award given to an Iranian film on July 30, 2019

Luisa Vuillermoz, the Artistic Director of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival announced that the Fondation Grand Paradis has selected the movie “In the realm of the spider-tailed viperfor the 22nd edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival.
The director and producer of the movie “In the realm of the spider-tailed viper” is Dr. Mohammad Ala, winner of the 2018 Cinema Vérité Award, the 2018 Panda Award and the 2013 Grand Prix Film Italia Award. The above photo shows Dr Ala at the 22nd edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival
The above video shows Dr. Mohammad Ala discussing his films as related to the importance of protecting endangered species and the environment in general (Source: GPFF).
The movie “In the realm of the spider-tailed viperhas won the Prize WWF Italia awarded by the Technical Jury, as special acknowledgement for the engagement in the protection and safeguarding or rare and unique species.
The above photo shows Dr. Ala (second from left receiving  the 2013 Grand Prix Film Italia Award) along with two Italian mayors from Lecce and Bari who attended this event. The festival is known among Italians because it started in 1962.
As noted by Luisa Vuillermoz with respect to the 22nd edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival 0f 2019:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Mohammad Ala for his participation and his important contribution during the presentation of the Iranian film to the Festival audience.
For more information, photos, press releases, news and information about the 22nd Gran Paradiso Film Festival are available at the official website www.gpff.it.