Iranian Azeris

:"This article is about Azeris in Iran. For Azeris in general, see the respective article."The Azeri (also known as Azerbaijani) population of Iran is mainly found in the northwest provinces: East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, and as a minority some regions of Kordestan, Hamadan and Markazi. Many others live in Tehran, Karaj and other regions.Azarbaijanis] Generally, Azeris in Iran have been, "a well integrated linguistic minority", according to academics such as anthropologist Patricia Higgins.pp.188-191] In fact, until the Pahlavi period in the 20th century, "the identity of Iran was not exclusively Persian, but supra-ethnic", as much of the political leadership, starting from the 11th century, had been Turkic.Ibid.] The Iranian and Turkic groups were integrated until 20th century nationalism and communalism began to alter popular perception.Ibid.] Despite friction, Azerbaijanis in Iran came to be well represented at all levels of, "political, military, and intellectual hierarchies, as well as the religious hierarchy."Ibid.]

Background

Origins

The Iranian origins of the Azeris likely derive from ancient Iranic tribes, such as the Medes in Iranian Azarbaijan, and Scythian invaders who arrived during the eighth century BCE. It is believed that the Medes mixed with an indigenous population, the Caucasian Mannai, a Northeast Caucasian group related to the Urartians. [http://oke.grolier.com/InfoOffset=30818&FFC=F&OEMTag=RV&MajorVersion=11&EAID=0308950-00.ea "Ancient Persia"] , "Encyclopedia Americana" (retrieved 8 June 2006).] Ancient written accounts, such as one written by Arab historian Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Masudi(896-956), attest to an Iranian presence in the region:

Scholars see cultural similarities between modern Persians and Azeris as evidence of an ancient Iranian influence. [http://www.bartleby.com/65/az/Azerbaij.html "Azerbaijan"] , "Columbia Encyclopedia" (retrieved 8 June 2006).] Archaeological evidence indicates that the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism was prominent throughout the Caucasus before Christianity and Islam and that the influence of various Persian Empires added to the Iranian character of the area. [http://www.iras.ucalgary.ca/~volk/sylvia/FireTemple.htm "Various Fire-Temples"] , "University of Calgary" (retrieved 8 June 2006).] It has also been hypothesized that the population of Iranian Azarbaijan was predominantly Persian-speaking before the Oghuz arrived. This claim is supported by the many figures of Persian literature, such as Qatran Tabrizi, Shams Tabrizi, Nezami, and Khaghani, who wrote in Persian prior to and during the Oghuz migration, as well as by Strabo, Al-Istakhri, and Al-Masudi, who all describe the language of the region as Persian. The claim is mentioned by other medieval historians, such as Al-Muqaddasi. [Al-Muqaddasi, "Ahsan al-Taqāsīm", p. 259 & 378, "... the Azerbaijani language is not pretty [...] but their Persian is intelligible, and in articulation it is very similar to the Persian of Khorasan ...", tenth century, Persia (retrieved 18 June 2006).] Other common Perso-Azeribaijani features include Iranian place names such as Tabriz [http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/SUS_TAV/TABRIZ.html "Tabriz"] (retrieved 8 June 2006).] and the name Azerbaijan itself.

Various sources such as Encyclopaedia Iranica explain how, "The Turkish speakers of Azerbaijan (q.v.) are mainly descended from the earlier Iranian speakers, several pockets of whom still exist in the region." [R. N. Frye: [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v13f3/v13f3004a.html Encyclopaedia Iranica] , May 2, 2006] The modern presence of the Iranian Talysh and Tats in Azerbaijan is further evidence of the former Iranian character of the region. [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=tly "Report for Talysh"] , "Ethnologue" (retrieved 8 June 2006).] [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=ttt "Report for Tats"] , "Ethnologue" (retrieved 8 June 2006).] As a precursor to these modern groups, the ancient Azaris are also hypothesized as ancestors of the modern Azerbaijanis.

20th century

Resentment came with Pahlavi policies that suppressed the use of the Azerbaijani language in local government, schools, and the press. "Iran between Two Revolutions" by Ervand Abrahamian, p. 131. Princeton University Press (1982), ISBN 0691101345 (retrieved 10 June 2006).] However with the advent of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, emphasis shifted away from nationalism as the new government highlighted religion as the main unifying factor. Within the Islamic Revolutionary government there emerged an Azeri nationalist faction led by Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, who advocated greater regional autonomy and wanted the constitution to be revised to include secularists and opposition parties; this was denied. "Shi'ite Leadership: In the Shadow of Conflicting Ideologies", by David Menashri, "Iranian Studies", 13:1-4 (1980) (retrieved 10 June 2006).] Azeri nationalism has oscillated since the Islamic revolution and recently escalated into riots over the publication in May 2006 of a [http://www.iranian.com/Satire/Cartoon/2006/June/soosks.html cartoon] that many Azeris found offensive. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70910FE345A0C7A8EDDAC0894DE404482 "Ethnic Tensions Over Cartoon Set Off Riots in Northwest Iran"] - "The New York Times" (retrieved 12 June 2006)] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5024550.stm "Iran Azeris protest over cartoon"] - "BBC" (retrieved 12 June 2006)] The cartoon was drawn by Mana Neyestani, an ethnic Azeri, who was fired along with his editor as a result of the controversy. [http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/cockroach_cartoonist_jailed_in_iran/ "Cockroach Cartoonist Jailed In Iran"] - "The Comics Reporter", May 24, 2006 (retrieved 15 June 2006)] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5008420.stm "Iranian paper banned over cartoon"] - "BBC News", May 23, 2006 (retrieved 15 June 2006)]

Despite sporadic problems, Azeris are an intrinsic community within Iran. [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/culture/articles/eav041503.shtml] ] Currently, the living conditions of Azeris in Iran closely resemble that of Persians:Azeris in Iran are in high positions of authority with the Azeri Ayatollah Ali Khamenei currently sitting as the Supreme Leader. Azeris in Iran remain quite conservative in comparison to most Azeris in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, since the Republic of Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, there has been renewed interest and contact between Azeris on both sides of the border.Andrew Burke writes:According to Bulent Gokay:cquote|The Northern part of Iran , that used to be called Azerbaijan , is inhabited by 17 million Azeris. This population has been traditionally well integrated with the multi-ethnic Iranian state. [Bulent Gokay, "The Politics of Caspian Oil", Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, pg 30] Richard Thomas, Roger East, and Alan John Day state:According Michael P. Croissant:

Iranian Azerbaijan has seen some anti-government protests by Iranian Azeris in recent years, most notably in 2003, 2006, and 2007. In cities across northern Iran in mid-February 2007, tens of thousands of ethnic Azeris marched in observance of International Mother Language Day, although it's been said that the subtext was a protest against what the marchers perceive to be "the systematic, state-sponsored suppression of their heritage and language". [ [http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details_print.cfm?id=17508 Karl Rahder. The Southern Azerbaijan problem, ISN Security Watch, 19/04/07] ]

While Iranian Azeris may seek greater cultural rights, few Iranian Azeris display separatist tendencies. Extensive reporting by Afshin Molavi, an Iranian Azeri scholar, in the three major Azerbaijani provinces of Iran, as well as among Iranian Azeris in Tehran, found that irredentist or unificationist sentiment was not widely held among Iranian Azeris. Few people framed their genuine political, social and economic frustration – feelings that are shared by the majority of Iranians – within an ethnic context. [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/culture/articles/eav041503.shtml]

According to another Iranian Azeri scholar Dr. Hassan Javadi – a Tabriz-born, Cambridge-educated scholar of Azerbaijani literature and professor of Persian, Azerbaijani and English literature at George Washington University – Iranian Azeris have more important matters on their mind than cultural rights. "Iran’s Azeri community, like the rest of the country, is engaged in the movement for reform and democracy," Javadi told the Central Asia Caucasus Institute crowd, adding that separatist groups represent "fringe thinking." He also told EurasiaNet: "I get no sense that these cultural issues outweigh national ones, nor do I have any sense that there is widespread talk of secession." [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/culture/articles/eav041503.shtml]

Ethnic status in Iran

According to Amnesty International:

"Iranian Azeri Turks, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority in Iran, [and are] believed to constitute up to 25 per cent of the population. They are located mainly in the north and north-west of Iran. As Shi’a, they are not subject to the same kinds of discrimination as minorities of other religions, and are well-integrated into the economy, but there is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Turkish." [ [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130102006?open&of=ENG-IRN Amnesty International. Iran. New government fails to address dire human rights situation] ]

In addition, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, is an Azari, along with much of Iran's military, economic, [ [http://www.cornellcaspian.com/pub2/0411IRAN.pdf Professor Svante Cornell - PDF] ] and political leadership, a fact which seriously undermines claims of discrimination of Azaris in Iran or that they do not have equal opportunities compared to other ethnic groups in Iran. However, At the end of June 2005, scores of people were reportedly arrested following an Azari gathering at Babak Castle in the city of Kalaybar. Much more wide spread protests across major cities of Iranian Azerbaijan in May, 2006 triggered by a cartoon, drawn by an Azeri cartoonist, allegedly with abusive contents towards the Azerbaijani language, were met with repression. [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130462005?open&of=ENG-IRN] [http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/document.do?id=ENGMDE130742006]

In contrast to the claims of de-facto discrimination of some Azeris in Iran, the government claims that its policy in the past 30 years has been one of pan-Islamism, which is based on a common Islamic religion of which diverse ethnic groups may be part, and which does not favor or repress any particular ethnicity, including the Persian majority. [For more information see: Ali Morshedizad,Roshanfekrane Azari va Hoviyate Melli va Ghomi (Azari Intellectuals and Their Attitude to Natinal and Ethnic Identity (Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz publishing co., 1380)] Persian language is thus merely used as the lingua franca of the country, which helps maintain Iran's traditional centralized model of government. But Azari language and culture is still nevertheless taught and studied at the university level in Iran and there are publications of books, newspaper as well as radio broadcasts in the language. [ Annika Rabo, Bo Utas, “The role of the state in West Asia”, Swedish Research institute in Istanbul , 2005. pg 156. Excerpt:"There is in fact, a considerable publication (book, newspaper, etc.) taking place in the two largest minority languages in the Azerbaijani language and Kurdish, and in the academic year 2004-05 B.A. programmes in the Azerbaijani language and literature (in Tabriz) and in the Kurdish language and literature (in Sanandaj) are offered in Iran for the very first time"]

Furthermore, Article 15 of Iran's constitution reads:

:"The use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian." [ [http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/ir00000_.html Iran - Constitution] ]

Famous Azeris of Iran

Azeris (Azaris) - Turkic speaking and non-Turkic speaking - have participated in Iran's history and politics, and continue to do so. Some of the most famous Azeris of Iran involved on national levels are:

In politics

*Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran Clawson, Patrick. "Eternal Iran", 2005, ISBN 1-4039-6276-6, Palgrave Macmillan, p.5]
*Parviz Davoudi, current First Vice-President of Iran
*Mohammad Khatami, former president, is half Azari
*Parviz Fattah, current Minister of Energy
*Yahya Safavi, head of IRGC
*Ali Meshkini, influential cleric and the ex-chairman of Assembly of Experts
*Grand Ayatollah Musavi Ardabili, former Judiciary Chairman of Iran
*Mir-Hossein Mousavi, former Prime Minister of Iran
*Sattar Khan, constitutional revolutionary leader
*Bagher Khan, constitutional revolutionary leader
*Ali Soheili, Prime Minister of Iran
*Ebrahim Hakimi, Prime Minister of Iran
*Tadfel Molouk Ayrumlu, general of the Qajar army
*Abbas Gharabaghi, Iran's last Army Chief of Staff under the Pahlavi regime. [ [http://www.iran-books.com/Book/detail.asp?key=2405014 (autobiography)] ]
*Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, former chief prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court
*Ahmad Kasravi, Iranian nationalist politician and author
*Mina Ahadi, Communist Activist from WPI
*Mahmud Jam, Prime Minister of Iran
*Sadegh Khalkhali, hardline Shia cleric of the Islamic Republic
*Mohammad Khiabani, famous cleric, politician
*Ramin Jahanbegloo, political philosopher
*Hassan Roshdieh, famous cleric, politician
*Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
*Mehdi Bakeri, Iranian war hero
*Reza Moridi, member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada (Orumieh native)
*Tadj ol-Molouk, mother of the last Shah of Iran
*Farah Pahlavi, (Farah Diba) the last Queen of Iran (Mohammadreza Shah's wife)
*Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran (Azeri mother)
*Reza Pahlavi, son of Mohammadreza and Farah Pahlavi, claimant to the Iranian throne

Grand Ayatollahs

:"In addition to those mentioned above:"
*Mousavi Ardabili, he was the first head of the Judicial system of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1980-1989)
*Abul-Qassim Khoei
*Allameh Tabatabaei
*Fazel Lankarani
*Mousa Shubairi Zanjani
*Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari
*Jawad Tabrizi
*Javad Gharavi Aliari
*Moslem Malakouti

In literature

*Shams Tabrizi, mystic
*Iraj Mirza, poet and politician
*Mohammad Hossein Shahriar, poet
*Parvin E'tesami, poetess
*Samad Behrangi, political writer
*Gholam Hossein Saedi, writer
*Reza Baraheni, writer
*Ebrahim Nabavi, political commentator and satirist
*Afshin Molavi, journalist and writer
* Táhirih, poet, theologian of the Bábí faith, and women's rights activist

In the arts

*Aydin Aghdashloo, painter
*Samin Baghtcheban, musician, writer and translator
*Davood Behboodi, singer
*Dariush Eghbali, singer and actor
*Googoosh, singer and actress
*Nooshafarin, singer
*Haydar Hatemi, painter
*Ebrahim Hatamikia, film director
*Rasoul Mollagholipour, film director
*Marjane Satrapi, animated film director
*Kamal Tabrizi, film director
*Sami Yusuf, British singer, song-writer and musician
*Parviz Parastui, actor
*Akbar Abdi,actor
*Tahmineh Milani,film director

In sports

*Ali Daei, football player, head coach of the Iran national football team
*Hossein Reza Zadeh, World champion weight-lifter
*Hadi Saei, World champion Taekwondo athlete
*Karim Bagheri, football player
*Rasoul Khatibi, football player
*Hosein Khatibi, football player
*Hamid Estili, football player
*Yahya Golmohammadi, football player
*Hamid Derakhshan, football player
*Mohammad Nosrati, football player
*Aliakbar Ostad Asadi, football player
*Javad Allahverdi, football player
*Ahad Sheykhlari, football player
*Aziz Asli, football player
*Farshad Pious, football player
*Gholamreza Fathabadi, football player
*Yousef Karami, Iranian taekwondo athlete

cientists

*Maziar Ashrafian Bonab, genetic scientist
*Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh, philosopher of medicine
*Ali Javan, famous physicist

Other

* Jabbar Baghtcheban, educator, inventor of Persian sign language
* Sona Babai, oldest naturalized Iranian American

ee also

* Azerbaijan (Iran)
* Iran
* List of Azerbaijanis
* Azerbaijani people
* Iranian origin of the Azerbaijanis
* Demographics of Iran

Notes and references


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