DATE: 8:34:00 AM
I sent this email tonight to the US Department of State, following the television presentation of Richard Armitage's report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Dear Mr. Armitage:
I am an academic concerned with the study of Iranian history and philology, mostly about the pre-Islamic times. I am also an Iranian, and I followed your very interesting report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 28, 2003.
I am not a politician, so I am not going to make any political statements. I am however a historian, and I believe that many political problems initiate from the misunderstanding of history.
In your report today, you said "Iran used to be called Persia; however, today Persians are becoming a minority in their own country". Sir! This statement is fundamentally wrong! This is not the place to explain to you why the idea of a nation-state is specifically European, you can read for yourself about that matter.
I can however tell you that Iran never used to "be" Persia! Iran was always Iran (even in documents from 500 BC) and Persia was always Persia as well, and it did not all of a sudden cease to exist! For this, if you ever find time and really decid to learn, read Prof. Gherardo Gnoli's "Idea of Iran".
The second point is that "Persians" are not becoming a minority in Iran, since there is no identifiable "Persian" ethnicity in Iran. Persian is the name of our language, and although it was the language of a tribe called "Parsai" about 2500 years ago, today it is the language of people who live far from Persia, all around Iran, and even in Tajikestan and Afghanistan. Minorities such as Azeris, Baluchs, Arabs, and Kurds have never been "minorities" against a "persian" majority: since they never lived in a nation-state, they never needed to be a minority. Persian as a language was never forced by any government (for that matter, most kings of Iran during the last 1000 years were Turkish speakers!), but it was adopted as a lingua franca by the merchants and was promoted through a rich literature. if there are such feelings today, it is due to our misunderstanding of Iranian history and the application of the European idea of a "nation based on ethnicity" to non-European countries. For this, if you want, I can send you my own article that can provide some background and also bibliography.
I hope this email can help you see Iran and its culture and history even better and avoid making subjectively wrong and objectively absurd statements as such again.