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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Ferdowsi Foundation Undermined


11 September 2009



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Statue of Ferdowsi in Tehran

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Destroyed Ferdowsi Foundation Building in Esfahan

  (Click to enlarge)


LONDON, (CAIS) -- All the programs planned on the occasion of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh millennium were halted due to the lack of cooperation from the Islamic Republic organisations, said general secretary of Iran’s Ferdowsi Foundation Yaser Movahedfar.


Movahedfar expressed his criticism and said, “almost all our programs and projects have been stopped because of a lack of cooperation.”


Ferdowsi Foundation “projects, including establishment of Ferdowsi Museum in Tehran, renovation of Ferdowsi Mausoleum in Tus, establishment of Town of Shahnameh near Tus and the Ferdowsi Cultural Centre in Tehran and several other projects all have been stopped.


“To implement the new projects, several Islamic Republic organisations such as the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology as well the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) and Tehran Municipality were supposed to collaborate.


“We have pursued the issue on a number of occasions, but received no result. We wrote letters but received no response, so it was understandable that we lost hope over collaboration on plans inside the country. Therefore we decided to concentrate on programs we’ve arranged for outside the country.


“Several events are planned on the occasion of the Shahnameh millennium in 2010. We have a window of less than a month to complete our programs arranged for these occasions and submit them to UNESCO office in Paris.”


UNESCO has initially agreed to Iran’s proposal for registration of the Shahnameh millennium programs on its calendar of events in 2010. The proposal was put forward by the foundation early last March and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO submitted it to UNESCO headquarters in Paris.


Movahedfar also remarked that their autumn program set in Germany was postponed to the first month of winter, adding, “Iranian literati Jalal Khaleqi-Motlaq, Mir Jalaleddin Kazazi and Mohammad Hossein Tusivand will be giving lectures during the event.


A total of 23 tea-house paintings created by the Iranian artist Mansur Vafaii will also go on display during the event, he added.


The next step is to cooperate with participating organisations in the Middle-East and plans are to hold a conference in one of the countries in this region, Movahedfar concluded.


The Ferdowsi Foundation has also suffered extensively from other backlashes in recent months. In June 14, on the Commemoration Day of Ferdowsi the unfinished Foundation building in Esfahan was demolished by the Islamic Republic for no apparent reason. The destruction was executed in the presence of Saqaee-Nejad the mayor of Esfahan.


The 6500 square-meter building was constructed near the Sasanian Shahrestan Bridge, east of Esfahan and was founded from charitable sources.

Ferdowi and Persian Language in Post-Revolutionary Iran

The world renowned Iranian poet, Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE) and his epic masterpiece, the Shāhnāmeh (The Book of Kings) is the Crown Jewel of the New-Persian literature and is cherished by all Iranians as well as the Persianate Societies of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Central Asian states, and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.


Aside from its utmost literary importance, which is written in almost pure Persian, it has been the pivotal for resurrection and survival of the Persian language subsequent to the influence of Arabic. Shahnameh reflects Iran's pre-Islamic past, its cultural-values, its ancient religions, and profound sense of Iranian identity, nationalism and Iranianhood.


Since the rise of clerics to power and establishment of the Islamic regime in Iran in 1979, there have been systematic attempts to undermine Persian language. Ferdowsi and his masterpiece have been the subject of abhorrence to the fundamentalists and the prominent members of the regime, in particular Ayatollah Khomeini, who publicly made no secret of his contempt for Persian language.


According to Roya Hakakian, Khomeini “injected Persian with so many Arabic words that it confounded the ordinary listener, something for which he compensated by repetitiveness.”


In early 1980s, Sheikh Sadeq Khalkhali one of the most-notorious clerics in Iran and Ruhollah Khomeini's right-hand man, planned to demolish the mausoleum of Ferdowsi after Persepolis, in which his plan was neutralised by the Iranians.


Since then the Islamic Regime has systematically and gradually injected a large number of Arabic words into the Modern-Persian. As the result, today over 14% of Arabic words in Persian used in material culture, 24% in intellectual life and over 35% of everyday literary activity.


In response to the regime’s anti-Iranian stance, the Iranian patriotism to the point of chauvinism has been on the rise and with a great help from the Shahnameh, the modern Persian lexicon has turned into a bastion of nationalism. Numerous Persian synonyms have been also invented, which is rooted from the Old and the middle-Persian (Parthian and Sasanian Pahlavi) as well as English to replace the regime’s most commonly used Arabic words, which to everyone's wonder, the new words have caught on.





Original News bulletin published by Mehr News rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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