My country Iran, under the tyrannical rule of a theocracy, has unfortunately become a source of premonitions and fear rather than inspiration and hope. I shall begin by describing the background to current state of affairs. It has to do with the build-up of a strategy which I call “politics of Shiite hegemony”. In a quick sketch I shall also describe the various building blocks connected with this strategy prior to proceeding to demonstrate how the clerical regime has abused the advantages it has gained as a result of this strategy.
Let me preface this presentation with a word about what remains uppermost in my heart and mind: My country Iran. Here, I should like to draw a clear line: As a nation-state and as a people, Iran and Iranians should not be confused with the clerical regime, and what it projects. Iran’s multi- millennia culture has suffered from the fundamentalist yoke, but is alive and defiant. Its strength has conditioned and reshaped the paradigm the Islamist regime had hoped to impose and perpetuate. This distinction is essential both for understanding Iran’s behavior as well as the dynamics it generates in the region.
Late in August this year the Osnabrueck Symphony Orchestra from north-western Germany travelled to Tehran and played Beethoven and Brahms in Roudaki Hall-Tehran’s famous opera house. The previous year it was the Tehran Symphony Orchestra which had performed in Osnabrueck. This cultural exchange-a banal event in all other circumstances-was remarkable in some respects. If it evoked surprise and curiosity, even criticism in some quarters, for me, it was a comforting vindication of what I just said. But let me develop this thought just a bit more.
Western classical music, to be sure, is not part of traditional Iranian culture, and yes it’s elitist. But the fact that the Tehran symphony Orchestra and the Roudaki Hall have survived the vagaries of these past three decades is yet another evidence that the forces of darkness, the cult of death, martyrdom and superstition has not conquered the spirit of our nation.
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