How Iran persecutes its oldest religion

From CNN:

By Jamsheed K. Choksy, Special to CNN
November 14, 2011 — Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Zoroastrian worshipers pray near the central Iranian city of Yazd in 2004.
Zoroastrian worshipers pray near the central Iranian city of Yazd in 2004.

  • Zoroastrians are not insulated from Iran’s tribulations, Jamsheed K. Choksy says
  • Followers of this ancient faith are disparaged as “sinful animals,” he says
  • Choksy: Many Muslim Iranians are rejecting the Shiite theocracy’s intolerant ways
  • President Ahmadinejad now uses Zoroastrianism’s past for political ends, Choksy says

Editor’s note: Jamsheed K. Choksy is professor of Iranian studies, senior fellow of the Center on American and Global Security, and former director of the Middle Eastern studies program at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Bloomington, Indiana (CNN) — As Zoroastrian funerary processions enter the graveyard overlooking the Tehran suburb of Ray, their sobriety is often shattered by the sound of explosions and gunfire. Frequently, the way forward is blocked by Islamic Revolutionary Guards conducting a combat exercise among the tombs. According to Zoroastrian custom, burial needs to take place within 24 hours, and the Revolutionary Guards will not halt their training activities there for the funerals.

This is just another sign of religious freedom fading in the Islamic Republic.

Much that is written about the Zoroastrians of Iran portrays them as a venerable and quaint religious community. But these followers of an ancient faith are not insulated from the tribulations of their country.

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Zoroastrianism is named after its founder, the prophet Zarathustra — or Zoroaster, as he came to be known in the West — who preached sometime between 1800 and 1000 B.C. Zoroaster spoke of humans siding with God (called Ahura Mazda, or the Wise Lord) against the devil (called Angra Mainyu, or the Angry Spirit) and fighting for all that is right. In time, those concepts became central to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So did Zoroastrian beliefs that each soul faces judgment after death before entering heaven, limbo or hell, and that all of humanity will experience resurrection, final judgment and heaven on Earth.

Ancient Persian kings like Cyrus and Darius followed their faith’s basic tenet of doing good by freeing Israelites from the Babylonian Exile and supporting construction of the Second Temple at Jerusalem. Zoroastrianism’s clergymen, or magi, are known around the world as the wise men in attendance at the nativity of Jesus. Until Arabs conquered Iran during the seventh century, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians there could practice their own devotions unhindered. Thereafter, they became minorities who were persecuted and largely converted to Islam.

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8 Replies to “How Iran persecutes its oldest religion”

  1. i think the people of iran have had a belly full of their own regime.
    i believe there will be an “arab spring” there, also.
    it willl, however, be a true spring.
    not what is likely to be inflicted on the egyptians.

  2. But it seems they can not get enough of the big black booty porn. This regime is also a big fan of that genre of porn. I have sent the Pres literally tons of the stuff. He can not get enough. My only worry is that when he is finished with it, he should spare a thought for those less fortunate than himself and sell it off to other fans for a cheap price. Also if he is really compassionate he should remember that his regime has chopped off the right hand of a lot of men who need that hand to jack off when viewing the gigantic black assess in the magazines. If the regime wants to get its compassionate face back it needs to go to the homes of these porn fans and help them to jack off. The pres himself should set an example by being the first to perform this compassionate jacking off duty for the black booty fans he has maimed for life.

  3. I read today that Mohammad “pig diarrhea be upon him” borrowed his vision of paradise from the Zoroastrians of Persia and Hindus’ writings for his religion as well as other ideas from Christianism and Judaism. No wonder why he wanted to get rid of them. To shut them up so they would not tell.

  4. If the leadership of a country is willing to spill the blood of the citizens and has a strong military to back them they can stay in power a long time, witness the survival of the Soviet Union for so long. Given the people in charge and their willingness to use force I don’t see any rebellion working unless is is accompanied by an invasion. We had a chance for that back when the first invasion of Iraq was scheduled, but that was delayed and the rebels in Iran were destroyed. Until someone is willing to invade and conquer Iran we can expect the mullahs to remain in power.

  5. I prefer another solution rather than invade. Invading countries is expensive and takes a lot of effort. With Iran it is lot simpler. It will simply implode from its many problems, a bit like the Soviets. Things are lot worse in Iran than many people know. For example they have a strong drug habit, with millions hooked. Add to that a strong prostitution epidemic. Muta marriage or marriage just for pleasure means Mullah acts as pimps. Add to that a strong poverty problem as the economy is badly managed with a population doubling (since the Mullahs took) over adding to the problems of poverty. Plus the inbred brown witless population are fired up with religious and racial hatred and you have a basket case which given a few more years will implode. You have to remember with Iran it is more talk than anything. They have tried with Russians to build their nuclear whatever, and now they turn to the North Koreans. Both are smarter and know how to do things. This witless crew running Iran can do nothing but bluster and puff and huff until things unravel. It took a mere virus to knock out their Nuclear whatever. They blustered about that and now they are running around dealing with anther version of the same virus. Not exactly a nuclear, or computer savvy nation. They know about religion though. They know how watch out for a Mahdi who lives in a well, where they talk to him via letters. We are dealing with serious idiots. Idiots with oil. But the party can only go on for so long. Oil money is like money in the bank, once it is gone it is gone forever.

  6. Their nuclear program hasn’t been destroyed, it has been delaying by about 12 months, if that much. Buying time like this simply pushed the problem into future leaders laps and lets the current ones off the hook. In reality what we are doing is buying time with peoples lives, by delaying the confrontation it gives them time to build stronger military forces which means more people on all sides of the coming conflict will die, and that the war will be longer and more expensive then if we had hit them back about 03 or 04. Also underestimating your enemy is a good way to lose a war, always figure they are as smart as you are and as mean if not meaner.

  7. Over estimating them is also not good. However, we are on the same page. I would hesitate to argue. I want a solution that is the best but we will see how things pan out.

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