Thursday, 30 April 2015

Let's stand up against the anti-Arab wave of racism in Iran

An appeal by the Centre for Combatting Racism and Discrimination against Arabs in Iran (CCRDAI):

Since 29 March, 2015 the Iranian public opinion has been occupied by an incident described as, “harassment of two Iranian pilgrims by Saudi police officers in the Jeddah airport during inspections.” The majority of Iranian media outlets, websites, and newspapers have launched a fierce racist attack on Arabs, spewing horrible slurs and reviling all that is Arab with the most horrible terms.
This racial discourse has expanded uncontrollably to include public figures and official media which feed the historically rooted anti-Arab dialogue. The anti-Arab wave of racism has increased in momentum in the recent years. Such an increase is easily seen in the media and among nationalistic poets, such as Esma’il Khoyi, Mohammad Ali Jalali (M Sahar), Mostafa Badkoobeyi, Haloo, and others.Even football fans show increased racism during matches against Arab teams in Iran.

The latest attack on Arabs has spread far and wide to include an Iranian singer,Behzad Pax, who calls for murder of Arabs, and the Isfahan city Imam who directed hideous offences to the Arab people.

Persian television channels operating from abroad, in particular those based in the city of Los Angeles, those operating from within Iran, newspapers, and social media activists have all resorted to diverse forms of abuse against Arabs. Furthermore, we have witnessed, for the first time, a unity between the Sho’oubi clergies and racist elements of the Persian nationalists. Protesters belonging to the latter group carried pictures of general Qasem Soleimani and praised the Basij forces of the Revolutionary Guards. This unity indicates a new phenomenon in the modern Iranian history of a unity between Sho’oubi creed and Persian nationalistic racism.

At the CCRDAI, we believe that this anti-Arab racist discourse, which has gathered various groups from within and outside of Iran, is not a direct reaction to the Operation Decisive Storm by the Saudi forces against the Houthi allies of Iran. It, in fact, uncovers the extent of these racist groups’ displeasure at the growth in national awareness among Ahwazi Arab people, and other non-Persian ethnic groups, and the advancement of their struggles to regain their most basic human rights.

These struggles challenge the Persian dominance over the non-Persian nations of Iran and the expansion of the Supreme Leader’s regime in the Middle East and the Arab world. Moreover, continuing protests by workers, women, teachers, and other oppressed groups of the Iranian society have led the leaders of the Islamic Republic and their allies among the clergy and nationalists to manipulate the racist, anti-Arab emotions of the Iranian people as a means to divert their attention from their respective causes.

It is surprising and unfortunate that oposition Persian activists, as well as political and legal organizations, have not reacted to this new wave of racism.

Only a few individuals have raised their voice to warn against the possibility of disastrous consequences for Arabs of Iran, indicating that the majority of the Persian society approves of such a racist discourse.

It appears that a large contingent of the Persian intellectuals are more concerned with the well keeping of the statues of nationalistic poets than the victimization of their fellow Arab citizens by racist, Aryan insults. It must also be noted that, concurrent with this horrible racist wave, anti-Arab security services have targeted tens of Arab cultural and political activists in Ahwaz.Ahmad Hazbawi, who was arrested simply for reciting his poetry among Ahwazi people, faces torture and possible death in a secret prison of the Intelligence Services.

None of the cultural organizations or personalities of the Iranian opposition, who claim to defend the right to free speech has condemned these arbitrary arrests, while they produce statements regarding less important issues.

It seems that the free speech these organizations defend does not include Ahwazi Arab citizens and their poets. The members of the CCRDAI appeal to all parties harmed by the racist discourse in Iran (specifically, Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris, Kurds, Baluchis,Turkman, etc) to demand new laws against racism to be passed in the Parliament.As a first step, members of parliament can propose laws to prohibit racism and offensive language directed to non-Persian people of Iran and vote for it in order to stop the current racist discourse which targets Arabs and other non-Persian people. Moving forward to form a united front against racism in Iran.

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