Sunday, April 10, 2005

Iran, Facts and Schemas I

In Europe I used to the questions with the similar and common words like desert, camel, Hijab, belly dance, habibi (darling in Arabic), no public infrastructures, deep ignorance, Islamic government, Ben Laden, human rights, women at home, no university, and … These questions are arising from stereotype which is made by western mass media.

I'm posting part of my paper " Iran, Facts and Schemas" Which I prepared for Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights.

Where is Iran
Iran, or Persia, as it was known until 1935, is located in South West Asia. The 1,648,000 sq km large country is bounded by Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, Iraq and Turkey.

Tehran is capital of Iran. Nearly 14 Million people live in Tehran. The city has political, economical and social functions. Tehran became a capital in the 19th century.

Total population 69.8 million (UN, 2004) is made Iran as the most populous country in the region. Persians make up over half of the population, while the Azerbaijani account for at least 25%. Other ethnic minorities include Kurds, Lors, Bakhtiaris, Baluchis, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians and Jews. In addition to the local population, Iran has over the past two decades, hosted one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The estimated number of these refugees, mostly from war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq, has varied between two and four million. The age structure in Iran is :
0-14 years: 28% (male 9,935,527; female 9,411,647) 15-64 years: 67.2% (male 23,608,621; female 22,744,128) 65 years and over: 4.8% (male 1,645,246; female 1,673,755) (2004 est.)

As you see Iran has one of the youngest population in the world. Although, this young human resource should be a good capacity for country to reach development, unfortunately because of mismanagement the young population is recognizing as main cause of unemployment.

Islam entered the country in the 7th century A.D. and is now the official religion; about 90% of Iranians are Muslims of the Shiite sect. The remainder, mostly Kurds and Arabs, are Sunnis. Colonies of Zoroastrians at Yazd, Kerman, and other large towns. In addition to Armenian and Assyrian Christian sects, there are Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics. The principal language of the country is Persian (Farsi), which is written in Arabic script. Other languages spoken include, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, and Arabic.
The movement for modern interpretation of Islamic laws has been rooted in intellectuals, youth and women. In comparison with other Islamic societies Iranian are more liberal.For instance , the Islamic principle "Hejab" has a different situation in Iran.Although women in the public places have to wear Islamic scarf so called Hijab, firstly they are following the initiative Iranian fashion which has noting to do with the Hijab that women are practicing by their choice in the other Islamic countries. Secondly in the private places most of the young women do no practice Hijab. There is an argument that Hejab should be choice not force .


The principal language is Farsi (Persian) and Persian dialects, spoken by about 58 per cent of the population. 26 per cent of the population are Turkic-speaking, Kurdish 9 per cent, Arab 3 per cent, Lur 2 per cent, Baloch 2 per cent, Turkmen 2 per cent and others 1 per cent .

Iran has a rich and long history. "Some of the world's most ancient settlements have been excavated in the Caspian region and on the Iranian plateau; village life began there c.4000 BC The Aryans came about 2000 BC and split into two main groups, the Medes and the Persians. The Persian Empire founded (c.550 BC) by Cyrus the Great was succeeded, after a period of Greek and Parthian rule, by the Sassanid in the early 3d cent. AD. Their control was weakened when Arab invaders took (636) the capital, Ctesiphon; it ended when the Arabs defeated the Sassanid armies at Nahavand in 641. With the invasion of Persia the Arabs brought Islam."1
"This long Islamic period, however, has also been turbulent. Under the Abbasid Dynasty, with Baghdad as the center of empire, Seljuks of Turkish origin ruled Iran in the name of the Abbasid Caliphs until the 13th century A.D. When the Mongols arrived, Persian culture, literature and poetry flourished and spread their influence as far as India, even while the Ilkhans and Tamerlane ravaged the economy. The people suffered through almost three centuries of civil disturbances until the Turkoman dynasty of the Safavids unified the Persian empire once again in 1502." 2

The constitutional revolution in 1906 ended by an army officer, Reza Khan in 1925. During next 54 years Reza Khan and his son, Mohammad Reza kept power in their hands. The Islamic revolutionary movement under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini won .The Islamic Republic with a new constitution was proclaimed in April 1979.

In August 1997, President Seyed Mohammad Khatami , regarded as a "liberal" elected by more than 20,000,000 votes of women, youth and the middle class, for greater social and cultural freedom and increased economic opportunity. The Presidential Elections of 8 June 2001 saw the return of President Mohammad Khatami as president. Now after 4 years Iranian society is looking forward next Presidential Election in 2005. In the last Parliament election because lack of people participation conservatives took the parliament seats. Reformists are encouraging people to participate in the election. They know that traditionalists don't care about people participation to legitimize election. For them if only 1 percent of population participate in the election is enough.

The key candidate of reformists is Dr. Moein, the last minister of the Education Ministry. He promises people to work on rule of law and human rights but honestly president has a limit power in the constitution.




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