Anti-Iranian sentiment

Anti-Iranian sentiment

Anti-Iranian sentiment (ایرانی ستیزی also ایران ستیزی) refers to feelings of hostility, hatred, or prejudice towards Iran, its citizens, or Iranian peoples.

By Arabs


According to Encyclopedia Iranica, the word "ajam", in Arabic "is applied especially to Persians" and means "to mumble, and speak indistinctly" [Encyclopedia Iranica, p.700.] (similar to the Slavic use of words from the root "nemoy" ("mute") to refer to the Germans; see Names for Germany), which is the opposite of the meaning of speaking "chaste and correct Arabic language." ["ibid."]

: "The distinction of "Arab" and "Ajam" is already discernible in pre- and early Islamic literature Cf. the "Ajam Temtemī" ("stuttering barbarian")." ["ibid"] (also mentioned in [Goldziher. "Muhammedanische Studien I. p.103. tr I, p.99] )

: "In general, "ajam" was a pejorative term, used by Arabs because of their contrived social and political superiority in early Islam." [Encyclopedia Iranica, p.700]

Dehkhoda Dictionary also verifies this, stating the meaning as "کند زبانان" i.e. "one who mumbles". For another detailed discourse on this subject see:
*Ignaz Goldziher, "'Arab und 'Agam". Muhammedanische Studien I. Halle. 1889-1890. I p.101. tr. London 1967-1971, I, p.98 [C. E. Bosworth.

However, Arabic dictionaries state that the word Ajami is used for all non-Arabs. The word itself is derived from the root A-J-M and refers to "to be unclear, vauge and/or incomprehensible" as opposed to Arabi, which means "clear, understandable, with perfect Arabic tongue". [Al-Fairouzabadi; The Surrounding Ocian (Al Qamoos Al Muheet) "in Arabic"] [Ibn Manthoor; The Toung of the Arabs (Lisan Al Arab) "in Arabic"] [Al-Bustani, P.; Surrounding the Surrounding (Muheet Al Muheet) "in Arabic"] [Abu Al-Azm, Abdul Ghani; The Rich (Al Ghani) "in Arabic"]

Anti-Iranianism in early Islamic period

By sources

Patrick Clawson states that "The Iranians chafed under Umayyid rule. The Umayyids rose from traditional Arab aristocracy. They tended to marry other Arabs, creating an ethnic stratification that discriminated against Iranians. Even as Arabs adopted traditional Iranian bureaucracy, Arab tribalism disadvantaged Iranians." [Patrick Clawson. "Eternal Iran". Palgrave Macmillan. 2005. ISBN 1-4039-6276-6, p. 17.]

The conquest of Persia and beyond was thus seemingly intended to raise new revenues, and the native population naturally did not appreciate this exploitation. Many Arab Muslims believed that Iranian converts should not clothe themselves as Arabs, among many other forms discrimination that existed. ["Ignaz Goldziher. Mohammedanische Studien". Vol 2. p.138-9]

The inhumane treatment of Iranians by the victorious Arab forces are also documented. See: [The following sources:

*"Ansab al Ashraf" or "Futuh al-Buldan" by Baladhuri. p.417.
*"Tarikh-i Sistan". p82.
*"Tarikh e Qum". p254-6.
Mu'awiyah, in a famous letter addressed to Ziyad ibn Abih, the then governor of Iraq, wrote:

:"Be watchful of Iranian Muslims and never treat them as equals of Arabs. Arabs have a right to take in marriage their women, but they have no right to marry Arab women. Arabs are entitled to inherit their legacy, but they cannot inherit from an Arab. As far as possible they are to be given lesser pensions and lowly jobs. In the presence of an Arab a non-Arab shall not lead the congregation prayer, nor they are to be allowed to stand in the first row of prayer, nor to be entrusted with the job of guarding the frontiers or the post of a qadi.

Mistreatment of Persians and other non-Arabs during early Islam is well documented. To begin with, the Umayyids did not recognize equal rights of a Mawali, and believed that only "pure Arab blood" was worthy of ruling. [Momtahen, H. "Nehzat-i Shu'ubiyeh...", p.145. (ممتحن ، حسینعلی ، نهضت شعوبیه جنبش ملی ایرانیان در برابر خلافت اموی و عباسی ، تهران : باورداران ، چاپ دوم ، 1368)] Neither did they make any effort to mend relations with the Mawali after making declarations like:

: "We blessed you with the sword (referring to the conquests) and dragged you into heaven by chains of our religion. This by itself is enough for you to understand that we are superior to you." [Momtahen, H. "Nehzat-i Shu'ubiyeh...", p.146. (ممتحن ، حسینعلی ، نهضت شعوبیه جنبش ملی ایرانیان در برابر خلافت اموی و عباسی ، تهران : باورداران ، چاپ دوم ، 1368). ]

The Umayyid Arabs are even reported to have prevented the Mawali from having "kunyas", as an Arab was only considered worthy of a "kunya". [Jurji Zaydan, p.228 (زیدان، جرجی، تاریخ تمدن اسلام ، ترجمه علی جواهرکلام، تهران: امیرکبیر ، چاپ نهم ، 137)] They were required to pay taxes for not being an Arab:

: "During the early centuries of Islam when the Islamic empire was really an 'Arab kingdom', the Iranians, Central Asians and other non-Arab peoples who had converted to Islam in growing numbers as mawali, or 'clients' of an Arab lord or clan, had in practice acquired an inferior socio-economic and racial status compared to Arab Muslims, though the mawali themselves fared better than the empire's non-Muslim subjects, the ahl al-dhimma ('people of the book'). The mawali, for instance, paid special taxes, often similar to the jizya (poll tax) and the kharaj (land tax) levied on the Zoroastrians and other non-Muslim subjects, taxes which were never paid by the Arab Muslims." []

References in Persian literature

Zarrinkoub presents a lengthy discussion on the large flux and influence of the victorious Arabs on the literature, language, culture, and society of Persia during the two centuries following the Islamic conquest of Iran in his book "Two Centuries of Silence". [cite book|author=ʻAbd al-Ḥusayn Zarrīnʹkūb|authorlink=Abdolhossein Zarinkoob|title=Dū qarn-i sukūt : sarguz̲asht-i ḥavādis̲ va awz̤āʻ-i tārīkhī dar dū qarn-i avval-i Islām (Two Centuries of Silence)|location=Tihrān|publisher=Sukhan|year=1379 (2000)|id=OCLC|46632917, Listed Invalid ISBN|964-5983-33-6 ]

Persian language suppressed

After the Islamic conquest of the Persian Empire, during the reign of the Ummayad dynasty, the Arab conquerors imposed Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire. Hajjāj ibn Yusuf, who was not happy with the prevalence of the Persian language in the divan, ordered the official language of the conquered lands to be replaced by Arabic, sometimes by force. ["Cambridge History of Iran", by Richard Nelson Frye, Abdolhosein Zarrinkoub, et al. Section on "The Arab Conquest of Iran and its aftermath". Vol 4, 1975. London. p.46]

From Biruni's "From The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries" (الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية):

:وقتی قتبیه بن مسلم سردار حجاج، بار دوم بخوارزم رفت و آن را باز گشود هرکس را که خط خوارزمی می نوشت و از تاریخ و علوم و اخبار گذشته آگاهی داشت از دم تیغ بی دریغ درگذاشت و موبدان و هیربدان قوم را یکسر هلاک نمود و کتابهاشان همه بسوزانید و تباه کرد تا آنکه رفته رفته مردم امی ماندند و از خط و کتابت بی بهره گشتند و اخبار آنها اکثر فراموش شد و از میان رفت
:"When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian history, science, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten." [Biruni. "From The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries" (الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية). p.35, 36, 48] "

It is difficult to imagine the Arabs not implementing anti-Persian policies in light of such events, writes Zarrinkoub in his famous "Two Centuries of Silence", [Zarrinkoub, Abdolhossein,"Dū qarn-i sukūt : sarguz̲asht-i ḥavādis̲ va awz̤āʻ-i tārīkhī dar dū qarn-i avval-i Islām (Two Centuries of Silence)", Tihrān: Sukhan, 1379 (2000), OCLC|46632917] where he exclusively writes of this topic. Reports of Persian speakers being tortured are also given in al-Aghānī. [al-Aghānī (الاغانی). "Abū al-Faraj al-Isfahāni". Vol 4, p.423]

hi'ism and Iranians

Predominantly Shia Iran has always exhibited a sympathetic side for Ali and his progeny. Even when Persia was largely Sunni, this was still evident as can be seen from the writings remaining from that era. Rumi for example, praises Ali (in a section entitled "Learn from Ali"), which recounts Ali ibn Abi Talib's explanation as to why he declined to kill someone who had spit in his face as Ali was defeating him in battle. Persian literature in praise of Ali's progeny is quite ubiquitous and abundant. These all stem from numerous traditions regarding Ali's favor of Persians being as equals to Arabs.

In Bihar ul Anwar (vol.9, bab 124), a tradition quoted from Usul al-Kafi reads::"One day a group of the Mawali (Iranian clinets of Arab tribes) came to Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali and complained about the conduct of the Arabs. They said to him that the Messenger of God did not make any distinction between Arabs and non-Arabs in the disbursement of public funds (bayt ul-mal) or in the matter of marriage. They added that the Prophet distributed public funds equally among Muslims and let Salman (Persian Muslim), Bilal (black African Muslim) and Suhayb (Roman Muslim) marry Arab women, but today Arabs discriminated between themselves and us. 'Ali went to the Arabs and discussed the matter with them, but it was to no avail. The Arabs shouted, "It is quite impossible! Impossible! "'All, annoyed and angered by this turn of affairs, returned to the Mawali and told them with utmost regret, "They are not prepared to treat you equally and as Muslims enjoying equal rights. I advise you to go into trade and God will make you prosper."

Several sources speak of a dispute arising between an Arab and an Iranian woman. Referring the case to Ali for arbitration, Ali reportedly did not allow any discrimination between the two to take place. His judgment thus invited the protest of the Arab woman. Thereupon, Ali replied: "In the Quran, I did not find the progeny of Ishmael (the Arabs) to be any higher than the Iranians." [See the following sources:

*"Algharat" Vol 1 p70.
*"Tarikh-i Yaghubi" Vol 2 p183.
*"Bihar-ol-Anwar" Vol 41 p137.

Again, Ali was once reciting a sermon in the city of Kufah, when "Ash'as ibn Qays", a commander in the Arab army protested: "Amir-al-Momeneen! These Iranians are excelling the Arabs right in front of your eyes, and you are doing nothing about it!" He then roared: "I, will show them who the Arabs are!"

Ali immediately retorted: "While fat Arabs rest in soft beds, the Iranians work hard on the hottest days to please God with their efforts. And what do these Arabs want from me? To ostracize the Iranians and become an oppressor! I swear by the God that splits the nucleus and creates Man, I heard the prophet once say: Just as you strike the Iranians with your swords in the name of Islam, so will the Iranians one day strike you back the same way, for Islam." [See the following sources:

*"Safinat-ol Bihar" by Shaykh 'Abbas al-Qummi. Vol 2. p693.
*"Sharh Nahj-ul Balaghih Ebn Abi-alhadid" Vol 19, p124.

When the Sassanid city of Anbar fell to the forces of Mu'awiyeh, news reached Ali that the city had been sacked and plundered spilling much innocent blood. Ali gathered all the people of Kufah to the mosque, and gave a fiery sermon. After describing the massacre, he said: "If somebody, hearing this news now faints and dies of grief, I fully approve of it!" ["Nahj ol Balagheh. Sobhi Saleh." Sermon 27] It is from here that Ali is said to have had more sympathy for Iranians while Omar highly resented them. [Abtahi, S. Nureddin. "Iranian dar Quran va rivayat". p75.]

The following traditions are also recorded in Safinat al-Bihar: [Shaykh 'Abbas al-Qummi, (under wali), c.f. al-Kay.]

: Mughirah, comparing Ali with 'Umar, always used to say, " 'Ali showed greater consideration and kindness to the Mawali, while 'Umar, on the contrary, did not like them."

: A man came to Ja'far al-Sadiq and said, "People say that one who is neither a pure Arab nor a pure mawla is of base origin." The Imam asked him, "What do you mean by 'pure mawla'?" The man replied, "It is a person whose parents were slaves earlier." The Imam asked again, "What is the merit in being a pure mawla?" The man answered, "That is because the Prophet said that a people's mawla is from themselves. Therefore, a pure mawla of Arabs is like Arabs. Hence the man of merit is one who is either a pure Arab or a pure mawla associated with Arabs." The Imam replied, "Haven't you heard that the Prophet declared that he was the wali (guardian) of those who have no wali? Didn't he also say, 'I am the wali of every Muslim, whether he be Arab or non-Arab'? And doesn't a person whose wali is the Prophet therefore belong to the Prophet?" He then added: "Of these two which is superior: the one who is related to the Prophet and is from him or the one related to a boorish Arab who urinates over his feet?" Then he said: "One who embraces Islam out of his free choice, willingly is far more superior to him who has embraced Islam due to fear. These hypocritical Arabs were converted to Islam because of fear, while the Iranians came to the fold of Islam willingly and with pleasure.

Modern times

It was in Baghdad where the first Arab nationalists, mainly of Palestinian and Syrian descent, formed the basis of their overall philosophies. Prominent among them were individuals such as Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (the Mufti of Jerusalem), and Syrian nationalists such as Shukri al-Quwatli and Jamil Mardam. Sati' al-Husri, who served as advisor to the Ministry of Education; and later Director General of Education, and Dean of the College of Law was particularly instrumental in shaping the Iraqi educational system. Other prominent Pan-Arabists were Michel Aflaq, Khairallah Talfah, as well as Sati' al-Husri, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, Zaki al-Arsuzi, and Sami Shwkat (brother of Naji Shawkat). These individuals formed the nucleus and genesis of true pan-Arabism.

Satia Al-Husri's campaigns against schools suspected of being positive towards Persia are well documented [See for example: "Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq", By Kanan Makiya, 1998 ISBN 0520214390 p.152-154] . One dramatic example is found in the 1920s when the Iraqi Ministry of Education ordered Husri to appoint Muhammad Al-Jawahiri as a teacher in a Baghdad school. A short excerpt of Husri's interview with the teacher is revealing [Samir El-Khalil, "Republic of Fear", New York: Pantheon Books, 1989, p.153-154] :

: "Husri: First, I want to know your nationality.: Jawahiri: I am an Iranian.: Husri: In that case we cannot appoint you."

Saddam Hussein Al Majid Al Tikriti forced out tens of thousands of people of Persian origin from Iraq in the 1970s, after having been accused of being spies for Iran and Israel ["Saddam: His Rise and Fall", by Con Coughlin, 2005, ISBN 0060505435, p.148] [Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession By Andrew Cockburn, Patrick Cockburn, ISBN 1859844227 p.80] . Today, many of them live in Iran ["The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue", by Raphael Israeli, ISBN 1903900905, 2004, p.49] ["A History of Iraq", by Charles Tripp, ISBN 052152900X, 2002, p.230] .

Iran–Iraq War

Early on in his career, Saddam Hussein and pan-Arab ideologues targeted the Arabs of southwest Iran in an endeavour to have them separate and join “the Arab nation”. Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography by Efraim Karsh, Inari Rautsi, Dr Joseph M Stowell- P145] Saddam made no effort to conceal Arab Nationalism in his war against Iran (which he called "the second Battle of al-Qādisiyyah). An intense campaign of propaganda during his reign meant that many school children were taught that Iran provoked Iraq into invading and that the invasion was fully justified. [Con Coughlin. Saddam: His Rise and Fall, page 19. ISBN 9780060505431: Quoted from Samir al-Khalil. Republic of Fear, 1989. University of California press. pg 17]

On 02 April 1980, a half-year before the outbreak of the war, in a visit by Saddām to al-Mustansiriyyah University in Baghdad, drawing parallels to the 7th-Century defeat of Persia in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah he announced:

: "In your name, brothers, and on behalf of the Iraqis and Arabs everywhere we tell those [Persian] cowards who try to avenge Al-Qadisiyah that the spirit of Al-Qadisiyah as well as the blood and honor of the people of Al-Qadisiyah who carried the message on their spearheads are greater than their attempts." [Saddām, 'Address given'. Baghdād, "Voice of the Masses in Arabic", 1200 GMT 02 April 1980. FBIS-MEA-80-066. 03 April 1980, E2-3.)"] Verify source|date=March 2008

Saddam also accused Iranians of "murdering the second (Umar), third (Uthman), and fourth (Ali) Caliphs of Islam", invading the three islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the "Arabic Gulf", and attempting to destroy the Arabic language and civilization. ["Tallal Etrisi" طلال عتریسی in: "Arab-Iranian Relations", edited by: Khair El-Din Haseeb. 1998. ISBN 1-86064-156-3]

It has often been claimed that Iraq recruited non-Iraqi Arabs during the war to balance the far superior number of Iranian forces on the ground. [See the article میراث پان عربیسم in the journal مجله سیاسی-اقتصادی No. 209-210, p.12]

In December 2006, Saddam Hussein said he would take responsibility "with honour" for any attacks on Iran using conventional or chemical weapons during the 1980-1988 war but he took issue with charges he ordered attacks on Iraqis. [ [,20867,20950607-1702,00.html Saddam admits Iran gas attacks] ] [ [ Saddam says responsible for any Iran gas attacks] ]

On the execution day, Saddam Hussein said: "I spent my whole life fighting the infidels and the intruders [...] I destroyed the invaders and the Persians". He also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians. [ [ Witness to Saddam's death] ] Mowaffak al Rubiae, Iraq's National Security adviser, who was a witness to Saddam's execution described Saddam as repeatedly shouting "down with Persians." [cite news |title='A Historic Day For Iraq'|url=,,30000-witness_301206_0700,00.html|publisher=Sky News|date=2006-12-30|accessdate=2006-12-30]

Other Arab states

Some Arab states show hostility to Iran. "Al-Salafi magazine", quoted in "The New York Times", states: "Iran has become more dangerous than Israel itself. The Iranian revolution has come to renew the Persian presence in our region. This is the real clash of civilisations." [The Times: "An unholy alliance threatening catastrophe." Anatole Kaletsky. Jan 4, 2007. [,,1061-2530313,00.html] ]

In January 2007 Saudi Arabian King Abdullah said that attempts to convert Muslim Sunnis to the Shi'a branch of Islam will not succeed, and that Sunnis would always make up the majority of the world Muslims. Although Abdullah did not mention Iran by name, his comments appeared aimed at easing Arab concerns over the Persian Shi'a nation's growing influence in the Middle East. [] "We are following up on this matter and we are aware of the dimensions of spreading Shi'ism and where it has reached," Abdullah told the Kuwaiti Al-Siyassah daily. "However, we believe that this process will not achieve its goal because the majority of Sunni Muslims will never change their faith," he added. Ultimately, "the majority of Muslims seem immune to any attempts by other sects to penetrate it (Sunnism) or diminish its historical power." While there have been no specific examples of Iranians trying to convert Sunnis, Arabs fear such conversions would accompany Iran's growing powers. [ [] ]


Despite getting much financial support from Iran Palestinians have been an unreliable ally. [Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi, p17] Yasser Arafat actively supported Saddam in his war against Iranians. [ Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography by Barry Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin, p85] Interesting is that even for Hamas Pan-Arabism and anti-Iranian Sentiment got the upper-hand when Saddam was executed. Hamas condemned the verdict. [,7340,L-3346342,00.html] Hamas is known to be ideologically close to Tehran but this did not prevent the Islamist Party from expressing its opinion on the issue. [The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue : the Regional Impact by Raphael Israeli, p45] In its statement soon after the verdict was announced, Hamas recalled the help Saddam provided to the Palestinians in their hour of need: "We, as the Palestinian people, support whoever supports our people and President Saddam was one of those."


Al-Qaida has been increasingly singling out Iran and Shiites, describing the "Persians" as the enemy of Arabs and complicit in the occupation of Iraq [ [ Al-Qaida new tape blasts Iran for working with US] Copyright © 2008 Yahoo! Inc] .

In the Netherlands

The requests of the Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to monitor Iranian students has led to a situation that Iranian students cannot educate in University of Twente in the city of Enschede and Eindhoven University of Technology in the city of Eindhoven. The latter university has even asked the AIVD (the Dutch intelligence service) to monitor the Iranian students. AIVD stated that it was not their duty to do this, and the University has decided to stop admitting any applicants from Iran no matter what degree they are seeking. The reason provided by the Dutch government is that it fears the theft of sensitive nuclear information to assist the Iranian government to construct nuclear weapons. Remarkably only students from Iran are excluded and not from all countries which violate UN resolutions (e.g. Pakistan, India, North korea, Israel). [ ] Iranians are the only category in the Netherlands that were placed under such restriction [ [ Iraanse Studenten:Stop de verdachtmaking van Iraniërs - Nieuws ] ] and it was the first time after the German occupation during the Second World War that in this part of Europe restrictions were put on people based upon ethnicity, religion or race. Harry van Bommel, a parliamentarian of the Dutch Socialist Party (SP) ,condemned this "berufsverbot", using a German word which is associated with the Second World War [ [ 1930-1945 ] ] . [ [ Weblog Harry van Bommel » Berufsverbot voor Iraanse studenten ] ] Although the Dutch authorities state that the UN security council's resolution 1737 (2006) authorizes them and obliges all member states of the UN to take such a measure, the Netherlands remains the only country to have done so. []

In Turkey

Iran's Minister of Culture Hossein Saffar Harandi has called the disrespect to the Persian Shahnameh by some Pan-Turkists, as the "introduction to Anti-Iranianism". [ [ In Persian] ] Rs|date=January 2008 Iranian scholar Kaveh Farrokh claims that pan-Turkist groups have encouraged anti-Iranian sentiments. [ [ Untitled Document ] ]

Historically the Shia Muslims were discriminated in the Ottoman Empire as they were associated with their Iranian neighbors. In Turkey relatively large communities of Turks, Kurds and Zazas are Alevi Shia, while some areas in the Eastern Anatolia, notably Kars and Ağrı are Twelver Shia. Even in modern Turkey, Kurds and other Iranic peoples are targets of discrimination and violence (e.g. the 1993 Sivas Massacre). [Karin Vorhoff. 1995. Zwischen Glaube, Nation und neuer Gemeinschaft: Alevitische Identitat in der Türkei der Gegenwart, pp. 107-108.]

In 2008 the celebration of Nowruz, the traditional new year celebration of the Iranian peoples by Kurds resulted into two deaths and the arrest of 130 Kurds by the Turkish riot police. [ [ AFP: Two dead in violent Kurdish demos in Turkey ] ] [ [,2933,340614,00.html - Riot Police Detain 130 Kurdish Protesters in Turkey
After Clashes Leave Dozens Injured - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News

Although Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abdullah Gül has good relations with Iran, December 2007 the Turkish Ambassador to Israel assured the Israeli side that Turkey will offer support to some Iranian regionalist movements and their allies in the republic of Azerbaijan and made some irredentist claims towards the Iranian nation and its national unity. [ Congress of Azerbaijanis in Middle East is Genuine Lobby of Turkic World for Protection of Azerbaijan and Turkey – Turkish Ambassador to Israel03.12.07 18:35 |]

In the United States

The November 1979 Iranian hostage crisis of the U.S. embassy in Tehran precipitated a wave of anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States, directed both against the new Islamic regime and Iranian nationals and immigrants. And even though such sentiments gradually declined after the release of the hostages at the start of 1981, they sometimes flare up.Fact|date=April 2008 In response, some Iranian immigrants to the U.S. have distanced themselves from their nationality and instead identify primarily on the basis of their ethnic or religious affiliations. [cite news|first=Mehdi|last=Bozorgmehr|title=No solidarity: Iranians in the U.S.|url=|work=The Iranian|date=2001-05-02|accessdate=2007-02-02] In October 2007, Debra Cagan, a senior Pentagon official, shocked a group of British MPs by saying "I hate all Iranians" " [ I hate all Iranians, US aide tells MPs | the Daily Mail ] ]

Active support for Saddam against Iran

The USA actively supported Saddam in his war against Iran. (Note however that there was also U.S. support for Iran during the Iran–Iraq War.) The USA supported Saddam by supplying him with intelligence, [ Bob Woodward, "CIA Aiding Iraq in Gulf War; Target Data From U.S. Satellites Supplied for Nearly Two Years," Washington Post, 15 December 1986.] economic aid, weapons, [See:] and by normalizing relations with Saddam's government, broken during the 1967 Six-Day War. President Ronald Reagan had decided that the United States "could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran", and that the United States "would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran." [See statement by former NSC official Howard Teicher, dated 1/31/95, to the US District Court, Southern District of Florida:
] President Reagan formalized this policy by issuing a National Security Decision Directive ("NSDD") to this effect in June, 1982. ["Ibid."]

During the 1980s, the United States maintained "cordial relations with Saddam" as a bulwark against Iran. After Rumsfeld's visit on 24 March 1984, the day the UN reported that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops, the NY Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq" and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name."]

Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai, UAE. On Sunday July 3, 1988, towards the end of the Iran Iraq War, the aircraft flying IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes between Bandar Abbas and Dubai, killing all 290 civilians, among whom 66 children. The Vincennes was inside Iranian territorial waters at the time. The men of the "Vincennes" were all awarded combat-action ribbons. Lustig, the air-warfare co-ordinator, won the navy’s Commendation Medal for "heroic achievement," ... to "quickly and precisely complete the firing procedure" [ [, "Military Blunders"] Retrieved September 13, 2006]

Anti-Iranian sentiments in the media

Ann Coulter has referred to Iranians as "ragheads", [ [ Ann Coulter 'Raghead' Comments Spark Blogger Blacklash - 02/13/2006 ] ] and Brent Scowcroft has called the Iranian people "rug merchants." Additionally, the Columbus Dispatch recently ran a cartoon that portrayed Iran as a sewer with cockroaches crawling out of it. [ [ NIAC - National Iranian American Council - NIAC Protests Dispatch Cartoon Depicting Iranians as Cockroaches ] ] Debra Cagan, a close advisor to United States president George W. Bush, during a meeting with visiting British MPs, stated that "I hate all Iranians", reported by Daily Mail newspaper.

Other example of the stereotyping the Iranians as terrorist, awkward, ill-groomed and anti-West is found in Comic strips. These sagas (comic books) are more than just entertainments, at least to many readers; they are the post-industrial equivalent of folk tales and as such, they have gone pretty deeply into a lot of psyches. In "", Batman comes to blows with the Joker, who is trying to sell Lebanese extremists a nuclear weapon. Batman follows the Joker, who escapes to Iran. There the Joker meets Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who appoints him as Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations. The Joker addresses the United Nations General Assembly, saying he and the "country's current leaders... have a lot in common", before lethally gassing the assembly.cite web |title=The Comic Book Arab|publisher=AMEU|work=The Link|url= |accessdate=May 25 |accessyear=2008 |date=November - December, 1991 |author=Shaheen, Jack] The mentioning of Iran was later retconned to the fictional Middle Eastern state of Qurac, and panel with the image of the Ayatollah removed. Colonel Abdul al-Rahman first appears in comic book "Ultimates" as a 17-year-old Muslim boy from Iranian Azerbaijan (as stated in "The Ultimates" v2 #12) who witnesses Captain America's led invasion of his country. Outraged, he becomes the Middle East counterpart to Captain America, then killed by Captain America.

Hollywood's Depiction of Persians (Iranians)

Since the 1980s and especially since the 1990s Hollywood's depiction of Iranians has gradually shown signs of vilifying Iranians. [See detailed analysis in: "The U.S. Media and the Middle East: Image and Perception". Praeger, 1997; Greenwood, 1995.] Hollywood network productions such as "24", [ [ Media Matters - Conservatives continue to use Fox's 24 to support hawkish policies ] ] "John Doe", "On Wings of Eagles" (1986), [ [ Tv View; 'On Wings Of Eagles' Plods To Superficial Heights - New York Times ] ] "Escape From Iran: The Canadian Caper" (1981) (based on a true story), [ [ Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (1981) (TV) ] ]

According to Kaveh Afrasiabi::"Hollywood's tall walls of exclusion and discrimination have yet to crumble when it comes to the movie industry's persistent misrepresentation of Iranians and their collective identity immersed in a long thread of history." ["'Axis of evil' seeps into Hollywood". Asia Times. March 15, 2007. Link: [] ]

Some of Hollywood's "stereotypical" [ [ | Archive Pages ] ] and anti-Iranian movies include: "The Peacemaker" (in which a character, apparently without any context, says "Fuck Iran"), "The Hitman" (in which several mobs join together to demolish an Iranian mob operating in Canada), "MadHouse" (partially centering upon a wealthy Iranian who is in the process of divorcing his American wife. In one scene, the wife, speaking to her Iranian husband utters "you goddamn towel heads, sand rats"), "Transformers" (Defense Secretary of US using the term "Arabian Gulf" instead of the Persian Gulf, another character saying "... this is way too smart for Iranian scientists")"", "Under Siege", "The Delta Force", "Into the Night (1985)", "Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1985)", "Threads (1984)", "The Final Options (1983)".

Examples of recent films displaying these tendencies are Not Without My Daughter, "Alexander", and "300".

"Not Without My Daughter"

The 1991 film "Not Without My Daughter" was criticized for its portrayal of Iranian society. Filmed in Israel, it was based on the Pulitzer-nominated autobiography by Betty Mahmoody. In the book and film, an American woman (Mahmoody) traveled to Tehran with her young daughter to visit her Iranian-born husband's family. Mahmoody's husband then undergoes a transformation in Iran, becoming increasingly domineering and abusive, eventually deciding that they will not return to the United States. Betty is told that she can leave, but their daughter must stay in Tehran. Ultimately, after 18 months in Iran, Betty and her daughter escape to the United States.

Several Western critics, including Roger Ebert of the "Chicago Sun Times" and Caryn James of "The New York Times", criticized the film for stereotyping Iranians as misogynistic and fanatical. According to Ebert, the film depicts Islamic society "in shrill terms," where women are "willing or unwilling captives of their men," deprived "of what in the West would be considered basic human rights." Further, Ebert says: "No attempt is made - deliberately, I assume - to explain the Muslim point of view, except in rigid sets of commands and rote statements." [cite news|last=Ebert|first=Roger|title=Not Without My Daughter|publisher=Chicago Sun Times|date=1991-01-11|url=|accessdate=2007-03-20|authorlink=Roger Ebert] [cite news|publisher=The New York Times|last=James|first=Caryn|title=Embrace the Stereotype; Kiss the Movie Goodbye|date=1991-01-27|accessdate=2007-03-20|url=] Ebert then contends:

According to Jane Campbell, the film

The film was also criticized in Iran. A 2002 Islamic Republic News Agency article claimed that the film made " [made] smears... against Iran" and "stereotyped Iranians as cruel characters and wife-beaters". In a Finnish documentary, "Without My Daughter", [ [ Finnish documentary counters anti-Iran propaganda in US film ] ] film maker Alexis Kouros tells Mahmoody's husband's side of the story, showing Iranian eyewitnesses accusing the Hollywood film of spreading lies and "treasons". Alice Sharif, an American woman living with her Iranian husband in Tehran, accuses Mahmoody and the filmmakers of deliberately attempting to foment anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States. [cite news|url=|title=Finnish documentary counters anti-Iran propaganda in US film|date=2002-11-22|publisher=Islamic Republic News Agency|format=reprint|accessdate=2007-03-20] [cite news|publisher=Variety|url=|title=Without My Daughter|last=Nesselson|first=Lisa|date=2003-04-10|accessdate=2007-03-20]


The 2004 film "Alexander", by American director Oliver Stone, has been accused of negative and inaccurate portrayal of Persians. [ [ Trita Parsi, Oliver Stone's "Alexander" - "Miserably Lousy"] ] [ [ RadioFreeEurope - "World: Oliver Stone's 'Alexander' Stirs Up Controversy"] ]


The 2007 film "300", an adaptation of Frank Miller's 1998 graphic novel, was widely criticized for its "racist" [cite news |title=A racist gorefest |publisher=The Guardian |accessdate=2007-03-21 |url=] portrayal of Persian combatants at the Battle of Thermopylae. Reviewers in the United States and elsewhere "noted the political overtones of the West-against-Iran story line – and the way Persians are depicted as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks." (It should be noted Frank Miller did refer to many backwards and uncivilized aspects of Greek society.) [cite news |last=Karimi |first=Nasser |publisher=Associated Press |format=reprint |title=Iranians Outraged by `300' Movie |url=,,-6478028,00.html |date=2007-03-13 |accessdate=2007-03-14] With bootleg versions of the film already available in Tehran with the film's international release and news of the film's surprising success at the U.S. box office prompted widespread anger in that country. Azadeh Moaveni of "Time" reported: "All of Tehran was outraged. Everywhere I went yesterday, the talk vibrated with indignation over the film..."cite news |last=Moaveni |first=Azadeh |publisher=Time (magazine) |title="300" Versus 70 Million Iranians |date=2007-03-13 |accessdate=2007-03-14 |url=,8599,1598886,00.html?cnn=yes] Newspapers in Iran featured headlines such as "Hollywood declares war on Iranians" and "300 AGAINST 70 MILLION" (Iran's population). "Ayende-No", an independent Iranian newspaper, said that " [t] he film depicts Iranians as demons, without culture, feeling or humanity, who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people" Four Iranian Members of Parliament have called for Muslim countries to ban the film,cite news|last=Tait|first=Robert|publisher=The Guardian|date=2007-03-14|accessdate=2007-03-14|title=Iran accuses Hollywood of 'psychological warfare'|url=,,2033630,00.html ] and a group of Iranian film makers have submitted a letter of protest to UNESCO regarding the film's alleged misrepresentation of Iranian history and culture. [See Baztab newspaper accessed March 15, 2007:] Iran's cultural advisor to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the film an "American attempt for psychological warfare against Iran". [cite news |title=واكنش مشاور رئیس جمهور به فیلم 300 |publisher=Sharif News |accessdate=2007-03-21 |url=]

Moaveni identified two factors which may have contributed to the intensity of Iranian indignation over the film. First, she describes the timing of the film's release, on the eve of Norouz, the Persian New Year, as "inauspicious". Second, Iranians tend to view the era depicted in the film as "a particularly noble page in their history." Moaveni also suggests that "the box office success of "300", compared with the relative flop of "Alexander" (another spurious period epic dealing with Persians) is cause for considerable alarm, signaling ominous U.S. intentions."

According to "The Guardian", Iranian critics of "300", ranging from bloggers to government officials, have described the movie "as a calculated attempt to demonise Iran at a time of intensifying US pressure over the country's nuclear programme." An Iranian government spokesman described the film as "hostile behavior which is the result of cultural and psychological warfare." Moaveni reported that the Iranians she interacted with were "adamant that the movie was secretly funded by the U.S. government to prepare Americans for going to war against Iran.

Dana Stevens of Slate states:

Anti-Iranian Sentiment in U.S. Television Broadcasting

In May 2005, the Fox News network broadcast a special program, "Iran: The Nuclear Threat", hosted by Chris Wallace. Kaveh Afrasiab, an analyst and expert on Iran who once worked with Wallace at ABC, noted that the program "lacked the minutest evidence of objectivity, displaying instead piles of prejudice on top of prejudice reminding one of the Iraq weapons of mass destruction threat played up by the right-wing, sensationalist, network during 2002 and early 2003, duping millions of American viewers about the authenticity of the Bush administration's allegations against the regime of Saddam Hussain." [ [ Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs ] ]


See also

* Iranian citizens abroad
* Persecution of Zoroastrians
* Greater Iran
* Iranology
* Anti-Arabism
* Anti-Americanism
* Anti-Semitism
* Iran-Arab relations
* Islamic conquest of Persia
* 1987 Massacre of Iranian pilgrims
* Iranian Embassy Siege by Iraqi terrorists
* Iran hostage crisis
* Mawali
* List of anti-ethnic and anti-national terms
* Ajam

External links

* [ More muslim than others?]
* [ Baztab Daily Paper: "$10 million budget given to al-Qua'eda for destabilizing Khuzestan] (in Persian)
* [ Baztab reports on Al-Jazeera broadcasting fabricated lies to urge Arabs in Iran to uprise] (in Persian)
* [ Islam and Iran: A historical study of mutual services]
* [ What is the Shu'ubiyah movement?] (in Persian)
* [ Pan Arabists confrontation with Iran (in English)] [ (in Persian)]
* [ How Arabs demonize Iranians in their textbooks.] This is a translated excerpt in Persian of (the Arab) Tallal Etrisi's work in: "Arab-Iranian Relations", edited by: Khair El-Din Haseeb. 1998. ISBN 1-86064-156-3 [*&ds=Cultural+Studies&sort=sort_title&m=7&dc=175]
* Iranian-American Student Abused] "(by BBC Persian)"
* [ Culture and attitudes of Iranians] (BBC Persian)
* [ "Anti-Iranianism and the Persian language identity of the Tajiks"] (in Persian)
* [ Anti-Iranian Propaganda Ads on CNN]
* [ Persepolis Recreated - Movie about The real Persian Empire and Culture]
* [ Living with Iran's terror label] (BBC)
* [ Resolution Condemning Discrimination and Bigotry Against Iranian Americans Re-Introduced in the House]

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