Last March, I sublet my Manhattan apartment. A woman called Shireen answered my ad, and when she came to visit I was surprised to learn that, despite her traditionally Persian name, she was Indian. Mentioning this, Shireen replied, “But I am Persian! I’m Zoroastrian.” In India, she explained, Zoroastrians are called Parsis (literally, “Persian”) in reference to their Persian ancestry.
Zoroastrianism was Iran’s primary religion until the mid-seventh century, when Islam was imposed on the country by conquering Arabs. Many Zoroastrians fled to India to avoid forced conversion and discrimination. Today, Iran counts some 30,000 Zoroastrians; those who practice openly face persecution and are considered second-class citizens.… Seguir leyendo »
Last fall, while reporting on the U.N. General Assembly, I had the chance to meet a number of Iranian journalists accompanying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his trip to New York.
At the time, these young Iranian writers told me they were excited about the revolution in Egypt and the possibility of normalized relations between Cairo and Tehran. They were eager to hear about my travels in Egypt, a country they had never seen, and were especially interested in learning about the tomb of Iran’s last monarch in Cairo.
To my surprise, my revelation to them that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s tomb inside a mosque is quite humble was greeted with sighs of sadness.… Seguir leyendo »
For the last nine years, I have lived part time in Afghanistan, in a house in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul. In the past, when I gave directions to my house, I mentioned the well-known landmark next door: the home of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council and a former president and leader of the mujahedeen. As Afghanistan’s security situation has steadily deteriorated, people have been more and more hesitant to visit me; few of my acquaintances wanted to risk being near the home of the man responsible for trying to negotiate peace with the Taliban.… Seguir leyendo »
In he days leading up to the Iranian presidential election today, the world has watched as voters in the streets of Tehran rallied for the reformist candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, demanding “a government of hope.” Yes, Iranians have demonstrated this kind of passion before. But young Iranians now seem more likely to fight for their rights and die trying, rather than abandon their country and seek asylum abroad as so many of us have done over the last 30 years.
I remember the giddiness that my 16-year-old brother and I felt during Mohammad Khatami’s 1997 presidential campaign. Tehran was abuzz with excitement.… Seguir leyendo »