Iran's ne­glect of its back­fires

The Pak Banker - - OPINION -

Modern Iran, known as Per­sia un­til 1935, is the in­her­i­tor of a revered civ­i­liza­tion, which ac­cord­ing to some ac­counts is at least 7,000 years old. There is con­sen­sus among schol­ars that Iran boasts one of the most es­teemed his­tor­i­cal lin­eages of any modern state.

The first Per­sian Em­pire was founded by the Achaemenid dy­nasty in 550 BC, and at its great­est ex­tent un­der King Dar­ius I, its ter­ri­tory stretched from the Aegean Sea and Libya to the In­dus Val­ley.

Ira­ni­ans are cred­ited with mak­ing sem­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions to the sciences, cul­ture and arts, con­tri­bu­tions that are de­plorably eclipsed by the plethora of un­fa­vor­able me­dia cov­er­age of Iran's tu­mul­tuous pol­i­tics and its poor re­la­tions with the West.

His­tory afi­ciona­dos are aware that an­cient Iran was the birth­place of al­ge­bra, the first uni­ver­sal dec­la­ra­tion of hu­man rights, namely the Cyrus Cylin­der, the first monothe­is­tic re­li­gion of the world, namely Zoroas­tri­an­ism, and the first wa­ter­man­age­ment sys­tem used in ir­ri­ga­tion, lo­cally known as qanat. Even some ar­ti­facts that are taken for granted to be Western cre­ations such as the gui­tar and postal ser­vice are doc­u­mented to have Ira­nian roots.

That said, con­tem­po­rary Ira­ni­ans have not earned a pass mark in safe­guard­ing this time-hal­lowed legacy, and some even have chipped away at it. In the years that fol­lowed the Is­lamic Revo­lu­tion of 1979, the out­pour­ing of reli­gious zeal and fa­nati­cism set the stage for a crack­down on the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Ira­nian civ­i­liza­tion, in­clud­ing arts, lit­er­a­ture, lan­guage, fes­ti­vals and cel­e­bra­tory oc­ca­sions.

The au­thor­i­ties set about brand­ing pa­tri­o­tism un-Is­lamic and wounds were in­flicted on the na­tional cul­ture through elim­i­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal oc­ca­sions from the cal­en­dar, mod­i­fy­ing the cur­ricu­lum of the schools and uni­ver­si­ties to stamp out an­cient po­etry and lit­er­a­ture from text­books, de­stroy­ing mon­u­ments of pa­tri­otic literati and schol­ars across cities and even, in some cases, burn­ing old books and li­braries.

In tan­dem with whit­tling away the epit­o­mes of Ira­nian cul­ture and his­tory, colos­sal in­vest­ment was made on reli­gious ini­tia­tives, and hun­dreds of reli­gious in­sti­tu­tions,

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