The Identity and Ancestry of the Indigenous Ahwazi Arabs of Iran

Iran 061

Why the Indigenous Arabs of Khuzestan are a nation, or an ethnic group?

(Text of a speech delivered by Yousef Azizi Benitorof in the Industrial University of Isfahan and translated from Persian to English by  Ahwaz Studies Center).

Introduction:

In recent times we have witnessed the spread of cultural, political, and social awareness among Iranian ethnic groups.

And the national question has been the subject of debate and discussions among the political and cultural organizations both within and outside Iran.

The activists for the rights of indigenous and ethnic groups, both welcome and celebrate this development.

Before posting this speech I find it necessary to correct two mistakes that was made by the fallowing web-sites:  the site ethnologue.com   and the Washington post internet site have declared that Arabs of Khuzestan are one million and two hundred thousands, and 3% of Iran population. Respectively.

Which is incorrect and I will show that the actual number is much bigger than that.

Also after devilering this speech I found new sources that prove that the indigenous Arabs of Khuzestan used to live in the area before the coming of the Aryans to the Iranian plateau. These sources include “ A Pause and Reflection on History of Iran- 12 Centuries of Silence”  by historian Nasser Pourpirar and  “ The Complete History of the Pre-Islamic Arabs” by professor Javad Ali . Two volumes of  the 10 volumes of the latter work have been translated into Farsi by the late Dr.Mohammad Hussien Rohani.

In this speech I have tried to show that the Arabs of Khuzestan   are neither a collection of tribes nor an immigrant national minority but rather a native ethnic group, which has roots in the history and geography of this country. And is a part of that bigger society that is the Iranian peoples.

This speech was delivered in 1999 but I have since update it with recently obtained information.

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Greetings, sisters and brothers, professors and faculty members of the industrial university of Isfahan.

I am very happy that I am speaking among you, dear students of Isfahan.                Isfahan, a city of culture, science, religion and the arts.

It is not only in this day, that Isfahan is a tribune for a dialogue of civilizations, but this actually started when Abu-Faraj Al-Isfahani wrote the biggest Arabic-Islamic encyclopedia. So it is not surprising that today both Isfahan and the industrial university of Isfahan are the initiator of this kind of programs.

It has been more than a hundred years that the Iranian people have started their struggle against despotism and dictatorship.  Beginning with the constitutional revolution until the present time the Iranian people, Ahwazi Arabs & Tabrizi Turks, Isfahani Persians and Mahabad Kurds … shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand have struggled against despotism and dictatorship. Gradually, we are seeing the result of this struggle.

Arabs of Khuzestan as a nation or an ethnic group (or whatever you like to call it). Are an inseparable part of the Iranian nation.

But despite the fact that we are part of the Iranian nation, we do have an identity that is somewhat different with the rest of the Iranian peoples that I will further elaborate on this little later.

But what is an identity? Identity is the essence of an individual cultural, moral and spiritual being.

Each individual in the first place has an individualistic identity, which is consisted of his/her mental, spiritual, and psychological particularities.

Then comes the ethnic or (national) identity i.e. Arabic, Persian or Turkish; and then it is the country identity as in Iranian, Iraqi, Indian or Swiss.  After that it’s the religion identity and lastly universal identity.

The individualistic characteristic of the Khuzestani Arab has 3 or 4 main dimensions.

Religious, tribal, ethnic and national. Of course,  the priorities of each dimension is different in each social strata.

As far as common people are concerned the deciding factor for their individual, political and social behavior the priority goes to religious dimension then to tribal. 3rd it is ethnic (Arabic) and 4th it is national (Iranian).

After the revolution and with coming to power of the clergy in Iran the 1st and 4th dimensions have been consolidated or transposed.

But in recent years because of the changes in the Iranian political arena these two dimensions are becoming more distinct among wide strata of the people. We can see that quite clearly among the intellectuals, university students and even high school students.

So much so that the identical dimensions of the mentioned social groups is consisted of the ethnic (Arabic) dimension, then religious dimension (Islam) then national dimension (Iranian).

The tribal dimension in these groups is fast weakening and is becoming unacceptable.

The Arab intellectuals see the tribal traditions as the main reason for the backwardness of their people, and one that has always been manipulated by the central government to create divisions and backwardness among the people.

Now I will speak of the social historical status of the Arabs of Khuzestan to prove that these people are not a minority in Khuzestan but a majority,

From a sociological point of view, we can use the scientific term Khuzesatn Arab people or Ahwaz Arab people.

As we have mentioned,  Ahwaz in this instance is not just the city of Ahwaz but it is used to mean the whole area of Khuzestan.

In addition if someone wants to use the term Khuzestani Arab ethnicity or nationality we will not object, and might use that term.

As far as the science of sociology is concerned a nation or an ethnic group has 4 main components. In other words a group of humans or a social group must have 4 components so that it can be called a nation.

1st–  common land or geography

2nd – common language.

3rd – a collective history

4th– a common culture.

In other words a nationality or an ethnicity has 4 common traits,

1-   Geographical,

2-    Linguistic,

3-   Historical

4-   Cultural-psychological.

Also the Arabs of Khuzestan whose historical ancestry goes back to 6 main tribes, consider themselves to have sprung from a common ancestry and we see this in the

“Aalam al-Insab”. This is quite common among all Arabs.

At any rate the nationhood of the Khuzestani Arabs materialized when the Arabs became aware of their ethnic self and this is a process that occurred in the last 70-80 years.

Common language

Language is the most important component of the unity and cohesion of a nation or ethnicity. The Arabic language, which is the language of the Arab people of Khuzestan, is one of the most complete languages of the world.

I don’t think I need to explain this fact here, as most of you are aware of it.

The Arabic language, language of the Koran, Hadith, the imams, Amraa al-Ghis, al-Motanabi, al-Moaaary, Abu-Nwas al-Ahwazi, Najib Mahfouz and in a way even the language of Saadi, Hafiz Nasser khossrow and according to the constitution the 2nd language of our country.

The fact that the Arabic language is the 2nd language of our country has no bearing to the political and historical demands of the Arabs of Khuzestan, and as it is mentioned in the constitution it has been named so because of the closeness of the Persian and Arabic languages, in the arena of culture, religion and literature.

In the Shah’ era although Arabic was not named in the constitution, it still had a special place. And was taught in high school.

Universities also offered courses in Arabic language and literature.

In that era the shah was not at all fond of Khuzestani Arabs, denied their existence and at times even called them gypsies.

Although the naming of the Arabic language, as a 2nd language of Iran, was welcomed by the Khuzestani Arabs.

But they have demands such as teaching Arabic in elementary schools, and for it becoming official in Khuzestani courts and local ministries, alongside the Persian language.

I must remind everyone that the Arab people of Khuzestani are not Arabic-speakers, and by that I mean they did not used to be Persian, Kurd or Lurs and then their language changed to Arabic (which Ara-speaker infrances). But the proper way for calling them is Arab-Iranian, Arab-Khuzestani or Arab-Ahwazi.

Why do I say Ahwaz? Because this region before being called Arabestan or Khuzestan use to be called Aghlim al-Ahwaz, I will speak about this latter in detail.

Arabs of Khuzestan have been part of the Persian Empire for a long period of time, although at times they have been independent (such as the feudal times between 15th and 18th centuries or Moshaasheian times in late 17th and 18th centuries).

Common land

The land of the Khuzestani Arabs is the meeting point of the Iranian plateau and the Arabian peninsula, which means just as culturally we are at a meeting point of the rich Persian and Arabic culture and literature so we are from a geographical point of view also, at the meeting point of the Iranian plateau and the Arabian Peninsula.

The geographical area of the Arabs of Khuzestan is from Dezful in the north to Ghasbeh (Arvand-Kinar), in the south.

Soverah & Handijan in the east to Howeizieh and Mosian in the west.

Population of the Arab people:

Basically there has never been any census on the number of Iran’s ethnic groups.

In the national census of 1986 there was a box asking people about the language spoken at home. But later, the officials changed their mind and asked people not to check that box.

But now it seems it is necessary to have a census to find out the number of Turks, Kurds, baluchs, Persian, Arab and Turkmen in order to determine accurately, Iran’s ethnic diversity.

Most of the figures and statistics that appear about the ethnic population of Iran are estimates and approximation. But what I will be presenting to you is going to be based on the official census conducted by the National Census Bureau, the percentages however are my own opinion.

In a previous speech that I gave in 1979 in Abadan’s Petroleum University, I presented an analysis on the makeup of the population of the Arabs of Khuzestan as of a quarter of a century ago. That report was latter published in booklet form.

Since then we have witnessed   a significant change in population. A change, that was partly due to the Iran Iraq war.

Many of the non-natives and even some Arab natives moved out of the area, but the Arab returnees have been larger than the non-Arab returnees. This has been obvious in the city of Abadan. Not to mention that a great number of villagers from the war stricken town of Dasht-Azadagan (Khafajiah) have immigrated to Ahwaz and have settled there.

At any rate I will be presenting some census numbers that were released in 1997 but I must explain a few points before I get to that.

FIRST: with the exception to the villages in the north of Dezful, Masjed Soleyman  & Iezah, the majority of the villages to the south of this cities are Arabic. And so it is from this geographical point that the ratio of Arab villages reaches to 100%.

In other words 100% of the villages of the cities of Ahwaz, Abadan, Khorramshahr (Mohammarah), Shadegan (Fallahieah), Dasht-Azadagan (Khafajiah) are Arabs.

These ratios reaches 90% in Susa, 70-60% in Ramhormoz, and 50% in Shoshtar and Dezful.

SECOND: the official census provided by the Center For Iran Census is based on shahrestan (county) as a unit.

Which means the city itself, the small towns and the villages surrounding it are all wrapped together as a single unit.

Naturally the ratio of Arab to non-Arab is different in a Shahrestan (county) as opposed to the city itself.

In this census, the center itself has separated sections of Omedia (part of Ramhormoz) and Bagh-Malik (part of Iezah) from the shahrestan that they belong to.

POPULATION CENSUS OF THE YEAR 1997.  (1375 IRANIAN CALANDER) -SOURCE: CENTER FOR IRAN CENSUS.

Name of shahrestan                   population               % of              Arab

Arabs          population

1-                   Abadan                                    252047                 70%                176433

2-                omedia                                       80533                   60%                   48320

3-                Andimashk                               155594                  20%                   31119

4-                Ahwaz                                      1110539                  80%               888425

5-                  iezah                                        172027                  05%                    8601

6-                bagh-malik                                 90106                 05%                      4505

7-          bandar-mahshahr                           230696                  65%                  149052

(including  kpreh,mashoor ghadim, & sarbandar  & handijan)

8-           bahbahan                                      163032                 15%                   24455

9-           khoramshahr(mohamara)             129346                 95%               1228779

10-            dizfol                                           351942                 35%                  123180

11-             dasht-azadagan                           125825              95-100%              125825

(includes   khafajiah, hoviezah & bastan)

12-       ramhormoz                                       158542                   35%                     55490

13-      shadigan(falahieah)                           121000                95-100%                121000

14-          susa                                                 173232              85-90%                   155909

15-        shoshtar                                             210108                   35%                     73538

16-      masjid-soliman                                    222211                   20%                    44422

(Includes khamsa & raghivah  and south haft kail)

___________                                  ________

3,746,772                                             2,154,053

+  Increase in population in last 6 years (3.5% average growth of total population & 4.6% growth in population among Arabs * 6 years):

786,822                                               594,187

_________                                      _________

Population in 1381                                     4,533,594                                            2,748,240

+ The Arabs of Faka  & Movcian  & Dehlran (Iylam province) and Diylam port which are not part of Khuzestan but are attached to it.  300,000

Total population of Arabs of Khuzestan (former Arabestan) 3,048,240

Thus in year 2000 the ratio of the Arabs of Khuzestan to the total population the province itself (not counting Iylam province or Diylam port). Is  2748240/4533594= 60.6%.

And the ratio to Iran’s total population is:  3048240/65000000= 4.6%.

In our calculation we did not include the 1.5 million Arabs in adjacent provinces such as the cities of Ginaveh, Asslvea,  Bushehr , Khark island , southern  ports  and the southern Persian Gulf islands who are Sunni-Muslims and speak  gulf dialect of Arabic. We did not include them with Arabs of Khuzestan because these cities are not part of the Province of Khuzesatn. Arabs of Khuzestan speak an Iraqi dialect Arabic and the majority are Shia Muslims. Although these two fellow Arab-Iranian compatriots have had a shared history at some periods, and there was a treaty between Sheikh Salman Al-Kabbi the leader of Arabestan and Mir Mahna, the ruler of Langer port, presently because of geographical distance and religious dissimilarities there is not much ethnic cohesion or homogeneity between these two communities.

The average rate of growth of population in Khuzestan is between 4.4 and 4.6. There is no doubt that the rate is higher, among the Arabs, since the rate among the non-Arabs who are well to do is no more tan 3.5. It is because of this factor that the Islamic Republic in recent years has started a massive effort to infertile the Arab women of the area

A procedure, that Arab man, is not willing to undergo. However many Arab intellectuals

believe that the real motive is political.

According to the 1997 national census, 62.5% of the people of Khuzestan were city and 31.5% were village dwellers.

I must mention the ratio of city dweller vs. village dweller, that Is provided by the Khuzestan Center for Census is a bit different from the before mentioned figures.

According to the 1998-1999 census that is available to me, 63% of Khuzestanis are city dwellers, and 37% village dwellers. the ratio of city dwellers is higher in industrial and port cities. Abadan 84% Khoramshahr (Mohammarah) 81%, Ahwaz 75% Mahshahr (Maashor) 72.5% Omedia 66% and Dasht-Azadagan (Bani-Touraff & Howeizieh) 48%.,  Ramhormoz  47.5%   Shadegan (Fallahieah)  34.5%  Susa  30%  are city dwellers.

But recently Mehdi Kamrani deputy of Development of Khuzestan in an interview with   a local paper hamsaieaha  (published in Ahwaz) in 2002   has said that 48% of the Khuzestani are village dwellers. in which case we will have a slightly  different situation.

According to official census the number of Khuzesatn’s villages is 5800,of which 3700 are Arab, in other words 64% of Khuzesatn villages are Arab inhabitants.

According to Mr. Kamrani in the year 1381, we have 1,392,720 Arab villagers.

(4533594 x 48% x 64% = 1,392,720)

Now unfortunately because I don’t have the census of Khuzesatn’s population in the   cities (as verse to shahresans), I am not able, to do a calculation for them.

Therefore it is my estimation that the population of the Khuzestani Arabs plus the Shia Arab population of neighboring provinces is between 3 to 3.5 million.

On other hand, if we were to add the 1.5 million Arabs of the islands and ports of the Persian Gulf and also the 500,000 Arabs of Fars, Khorasn, Kerman, Yazd and Baluchestan  & the Khuzestani-Arab war refugees now residing in Karaj Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and other parts of Iran and add that to the number of the Khuzestani Arabs we will end up with 5,048,240 as the total number of the Arabs of Iran .In realty then one could say that 7.7% of Iran’s population is Arab. Now we did not include in our calculation the Iraqi Arab exiles or the Iraqi’s of Iranian descent (the Maaowadin) who also live in Iran.                                                                                                                      There has been a change in the ethnic make up of the population. Since 80 years ago, when the last Arab ruler Sheikh Khazaal ruled the area.  After the discovery of oil and establishment of Abadan’s petroleum refinery,  there has been a flood of immigrant from neighboring and far provinces to the area..

Back then except for a few Behbahanis and baluchs (less than 5% of the population), the rest of the inhabitants of the cities of Mohammarah  (today’s Khorramshahr) and Abadan were Arab.

The late Jalal al-Ahmad had a saying, which goes like this: before you know it the colonialist will pour one nation into another nation’s mould (this is a paraphrase and not a direct quote).

Every time I read the valuable travelogue book by Madam Div La Foua  I remember the   saying of that  brave and fair-minded Iranian writer.

The cultured French lady who had visited Mohammarah after the death of sheikh Jabir al-Kabbi and the coming of Sheikh Mazzaal, paints us a picture of the city, on how men wearing Arabic clothing the Dishdasha,  Koffieh,  Aghal were walking in the city.

If one is to compare the present day clothing of the population of Khoramshahr (Mohammarah) with what was back then, then we get the real meaning of what al-Ahmad was saying. It is not as prevalent that we see men wearing Arabic clothes in that city now a days. But despite all their effort neither the British colonialist nor the Shah regime could change the language spoken by the people like they did with their clothing.

I don’t think there was that much opposition to Kurdish clothing in Kurdistan or baluchs

clothing in Baluchestan or Ghashghai clothing in Fars.

But the ugly sickness of anti-Arab racism was against all aspects of Arab identity, culture and way of life. This sickness unfortunately still, has not been cured yet.

While during the reign of Reza Shah the Khuzestani Arabs were suffering from their backward tribal society and, governmental policies that impeded them from progress, chauvinistic intellectuals and   thinkers such as Foroghi, Mahmood Afshar, Farahvashi, Saddagh Kia, Zabih Behrooz, were planning to suppress the identity of Iran’s ethnics groups.

Khuzestani Arabs was one group that they wanted to suppress the most.

Other anti-Arab nationalist writers also wrote many racist anti-Arab books, writers and poets such as Zarin-Koob, Saadeg Heydiat, Bozerg Alavi, Said Nafisi, Morteza Rawandi, Akhwan Salis   in one form or other vented their venom at the defenseless

Arabs, of Khuzestan.

An informal poll has shown that 80-90% of contemporary Iranian writers and historians are infected with the virus of anti-Arab racism. And unfortunately no relief is in sight.

I must also mention there are exceptions, most women writers such as Forogh Farokhzad and Simin Danshvar, as well as some male writers such as Jallal al-Ahmad, Gholam Hussien Sa-aadii, Samad Behrangi, Mohammad Jaafar Poeindeh, & Nassim Khaksar.

Somehow the vicious virus of ethnic hate did not affect the writers I just mentioned.

It can be said that intentional and unintentional immigration of non-natives has done a lot of damage to the Arabs of Khuzesatn.

It has meant that 0.5 to 1. Million Arabs may no longer be able to speak their mother tongue.

The policy of persianization (forced assimilation). If continued will inflict more linguistic, cultural and social damage to the body of the Khuzestani Arab society.

I am not opposed to the immigration of Iranian citizens from other parts of Iran to Khuzesatn, but in order to protect the Arabic culture of the Arabs of Khuzesatn from extinction, I like to see the teaching of Arabic in elementary level for the Arabs of Khuzesatn, which is also provided in the constitution, in order to safeguard the Arabic culture from further erosion by the immigration of non-natives.

I like to present two main and important reference books, which will enforce my argument that the majority of the people of Khuzesatn are indeed Arabs.

One is Dehkhodas Loghatnameh (Dehkhodas dictionary) and the other is encyclopedia Britannica, both of which emphasis the fact that more than half the population of Khuzesatn is Arab.

Now there are a lot more reference to prove that point but these two books are known for accuracy and honesty. And it is because of this reason, that I will not refer to Iranica encyclopedia which fallows the monarchist -nationalistic ideology. It is supervised by Ahsan Yarshater and his Iranian and American colleges and because of domination of the nationalist discourse on that work its both full of error one-sided and has no scientific value.

Common culture and psychological traits

The Arab people of Khuzesatn have their own traditions, customs, literature, art, and clothing. Which is quite different from the rest of the Iranian people.

For example the Arabs of Khuzesatn have their own treasure of literary history, theology,

and culture.

The post-Islamic part of which is available to us in written form.

This valuable body of work reached its pinnacle during the Mashaashid era in the late 17th century and throughout 18th, and 19th centuries. I will be speaking about that more later.

Abu Nwas al-Ahwazi, ibin-Maatovgh, Ali ibn Khalaf Mashaashi, Mula Fadhel al-Sokrani  and  Dr. Abaas Abaasi are just some examples of the poets that this nation has produced.

The traditional clothing of the Khuzesatn (Ahwazi) Arabs, for men is Dishdasha, Kaffieh, Aghal, and Beshit;  and for women is Nefnof, Thoub, Shila and Aosaba and Aabaya.

These and the jewlery is only particular to the Arab women of Khuzesatn and no other ethnic group in Iran wears the same clothing or jewlery including the neighboring Bakhtiari women.

Weeding and mourning receptions and customs are also different from other parts of Iran.

For example Hoossa or Yazel is by men and at times even women, is only is seen in Khuzesatn Arab society and no other part of Iran.

The Arab women have a very sad form of songs called Naaavi which they only use for the mourning of their loved ones.

Hoossa or Yazla is a form of dance that is accomplished by foot stamping conducted by chants of poetry. it is performed both in weddings and funeral processions however the chants are different for the two.

The musical instruments of the Arabs of Khuzestan except for Ghanon and Kasor are the same as the rest of the Iranian people. Of course we should not forget the Robaba (Robab in Farsi), which is a traditional musical instrument of the Khuzestani Arabs.

Also the musical Magham Dastgah of Khuzestani Arabs is almost the same as the Iraqi Magham Dastgah.

Both of which have similarities with the Persian (Iranian) music.

For example in our local Arab music we fallow Isfahan, Nahavand and se-Ghah Dastgah musical systems. But we also have our own Dastghahs, which is the Howeizieh dastghah, and although the origin of the last mentioned Dastgah is our own Howeizieh (city in Khuzestan) now days it is more popular in Iraq.

This is of course is a legacy of a time when the Mashaashid dynasty was ruling Arabestan and Arabic music was blossoming.

Both the Rifi music (Arabic country music) and the Bedouin music is common among the Arabs of Khuzestan, this kind of music is similar to that of the rifi music in southern Iraq and is similar to that of the Bedouin music in neighboring countries.

During a funeral all members of the tribe take an active part. Shaving

the face and presenting a piece of new cloth is part of the rituals. Each tribe has its own flag or banner and each comes to the funeral with their own hoossa.

The tribe will never have a hoossa for a deceased woman no matter how high her position in society is.

The Arabs of Khuzestan have their own wedding customs, their own games, and their own tradition for celebrating the event of circumcision of their young males.

A rare, if ever,  non-Arab Iranians have ever covered these customs through a non-chauvinistic view.

Since I have covered the Fasal (a sort of tribal justice) in my books and speeches. Here I am going to give an another example on a custom called Dakhil. According to this custom, if a person (pursued by some hostile party) enters a house and ask for protection, then he becomes the Dakhil of that household and no one can touch him or her.

The Arabs of Khuzestan consider Eid al-Afttar their main festival and value it both as a religious and national holiday. And look at no-rooz (Iran’s main festival) as just a celebration of nature. In Eid al-Afattr children wear new clothing and receive gifts. People visit each other and some family disputes get resolved as a way of honoring the special occasion. Eid al-Afttar is also regarded highly among the Sunni Kurds western Azerbaijan, Turkmen Sahra, Khorasn and Iran’s southern coastal ports, but because of nationalistic and prejudice of the dominant ethnic group about 15 million Iranians only have one day to celebrate their baggiest national-religious holiday. And often times because of the late sighting of the moon that day becomes half a day. Whereas the ruling ethnicity, has 15 days for its holiday (no-rooz)

As far as psychological trait goes, Khuzestani Arabs can have an aggressive manner or a  sense of revenge. Also when it comes to their womenfolk they have a strong sense of protecting their household, particularly women part of the household.

Some of this behavior could be  due to the hot and dry climate of the land, and also the  tribal customs and certainly it is due to the constant discrimination and humiliation is that ther are subjected to.

The racist Pahlavi regime basically believed in the superiority of the Aryan people or race. Muhammad Reza shah’s title was Arya-Mehr (lover of the Aryans).

Anti-Arabism was a product of his racist ideology.

The fact that Iran is a multi ethnic country, was perceived by him and his regime as a threat to national security.

It was the Sha’s official policy, to Persianize the Iranian society by denying and assaulting the culture of non-Persians.

The Shah had a warm and close relation with Israel, which enforced his hate of the Arabs

Mossad (Israel’s secret service) was very active in all aspects of Khuzestan province during his rein.

To the Shah regime the Arabs of Khuzestan were the weak link of the ethnic groups of Iran. Not only he was against, and hostile to the language, but also the folklore, culture music and even the clothing (Koffieh, Disdasha, Aghal and Aabba) of the Arabs of Khuzestan. Since he viewed these as strong manifestation of the Arab identity.               Of course we still see that hostility under the current regime as well, although a bit less than what it use to be and it is not ideologically based.

As I mentioned Islam and Shiaism is a part of the Khuzestani Arab ethnic identity and culture. But the negative consequences of ideologizing religion has also influenced the Arabs of Khuzestan, especially the youth, just as it has all over Iran.

Religion:

The Khuzestani Arabs are 12 imam Shia Muslims. In fact Khuzestan was one of the entry point of both Islam and Shiaism into Iran.

There is an old Sunni community also, and sects such as Akhbari, and Sheikhie, which have been in Khoramshahr (Mohammarah) since a long time ago.

The Sebans are an Arab religious minority; they are mentioned in the Koran as people of the book. They also live in Kuwait, Iraq and recently United Arab Emirate )UAE).

They are 35,000 to 50,000 in number.  Some Christian families also live in Ahwaz and Abadan, and there are churches some of which are old.

There is also an Arab (Iranian) Jewish minority, but since the revolution their number has

Been diminishing.

.

Collective history

About 5000 years ago, long   before the Achaemenid left Russia and headed toward the Iranian plateau, a Semitic nation by the name of Elamite lived in Khuzestan.

They have left us signs of their glaring civilization in Susa, Ghaghaznabill and other parts of Khuzestan, Lurestan and Fars .

Their   name is mentioned   in the olds testament for the first time.

Ahmad Aghtedari, the Iranian researcher, in his book the historical ruins and buildings of Khuzestan. Writes:” from what has been discovered in the city of Susa, one can say that within these hills, there are traces of Elamite civilization which belongs to the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Arab era, there are many signs of those eras in this place.”

Ahmad Kasravi, (a well known Iranian historian and writer) in his book “The Forgotten Kings” writes: “ the Arabs immigration to Iran postdates that of to Syria and Iraq, what is certain and there is proof for, is that date of that immigration is centuries before Islam, and from the early days of the Sassanid. In Parthian era the gates of Iran were open to the Arabs…etc”.

Kasravi then adds “ but it is certain and there is proof for it that during the Parthian era Arab tribes were living in provinces of Kerman, Khuzestan, Bahrin and Fars.

One of those tribes was the Bani-Aam tribe, which might be the first Arab tribe to immigrate to Iran.”

Ahmad Kasravi refers to the Tabari history book, the first Muslim historian whose work is still universally accepted. And writes  “ Aam is the same Merah Ibn Zidan Tammim, it seems these are the same well known tribe of Bani-Tammim whom today reside in Khuzestan and their ancestor is Merah Ibn Malik, who lived in the era of Ardeshir Babakan the first Sassanid king, and helped that king in his war against the Parthian Ardawan..”

Thus according to Kasravi the Arabs have lived in Khuzestan and other parts of southern Iran, since the Parthian era, but he does not rule out pre-Parthian era, its just he is unaware of it.

Tabari history says this about the conquest of Ahwaz: “ the conquest of Ahwaz was in the 18th year, when Omar (2n caliph) entered Syria, the cities of Ahwaz were overcome and the king of Ahwaz was Hormozan, a great man, the kingdom of Ahwaz was his and his family, there were seventy cities in Ahwas. And Hormozan was the king of all those cities. There were people in Ahwas of Kalib Ibn Vael and there was enmity between them and Hormozan due to land and village disputes. Hormozan went to the main of the cities that was in the center of the country; the name of the city was “Sough al-Ahwaz” and took refuge in that city which was fortified. And through that city was a river by the name of Dojil and underneath it is a bridge.” (Tabari’s history)

What does this mean? It means during the Sassanid era, Iran had many kingdoms, of which Aghlim al-Ahwaz one. The king of all those kingdoms was  Shah-a –Shahan or Shah-an-Shah (king of the kings). This was the same situation as in the Qajar era. Where Iran was  made up of autonomous, independent or semi- independent  regions,  or called Mamalek-e-Mahrooseh ( protected Countries).  And each region/country was ruled by a Valli (governor), in a federated or a confederated arrangement.

And it was called Mamalik Mahrossa Iran (the protected countries of Iran)

In the Pahlavi era the name changed to Keshvar Shah-n-Shahi Iran (the kingdom of Iran)

There is a similarity between the Sassanid era and the Pahlavi era in that in both cases the king or governor was an outsider, a non-native imposed on the natives.

Like the Hormozan of the Sassanid era, the governer-general Safari of Pahlavi era, or Admiral Madani, the first governer-general of the Islamic Republicin the first days of the Islamic Republic.

It is obvious from the problems between Hormozan and Kalib Ibn Vail, that the Arabs of Khuzesatn were also suffering racial discrimination in those days as well.

Mohammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari tells us that Khuzesatn had seventy cities, and the name of the province was Ahwaz not Khuzesatn, and also the capital was sough al-Ahwaz an Arabic name, we also will show you later that Ahwaz itself is an Arabic name.

The Karun River was also called Dojil, which means little Dijlah, (little Tigris)

The Islamic era Arab poet Jarir has this poem about the Ahwazi Arabs

This poet was contemporary of the prophet Mohammad, and its obvious from his poem that Arabs lived in Ahwaz and Tiery River (Bani Turoof and present day Hoviezah), and somehow were isolated from fellow Arabs, the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula.

Christiansen, the German ancient-Iranian history scholar believes that, Arabs in the Solkin era did live in Dasht Missan (present day Bani Turoof and hoviezah), under a particular form of autonomy.

Post-Islamic scope of aghlim al-Ahwas history:  Eghlim al-Ahwaz as the area was known  by that era’s historians  was a part of the Islamic empire.

The Islamic empire covered Iran, the Indian subcontinent, the Arab world east and central Asia and Turkey.

Khuzesatn was one of the centers of revolutionary movements during the early centuries of the Islamic era, the Ghramitta , Zangian and the Araziegha (a Kharijites sect) all  had bases in Khuzesatn..

In the early years of the Abbasid rule the Bani Assad tribe, which still lives in Khuzesatn, were ruling Ahwas and the surroundings.

Al-buea ruled Iran in the 4th and 5th centuries (Islamic era) and they also ruled Khuzesatn.

A certain person by the name of Shomla of the Turkish-Iranian Afshar tribe was appointed by the Seljuk’s, Malk shah , to rule Khuzesatn the Atabakan of Lurestan and Fars in the 6th century.

The khorazimids  ruled the area in the 7th century.  Al-Mozafer and Al-Jalaier ruled in the 8th century.  The Timurids ruled in the first half of the 9th century.

In the 2nd half of the 9th century (15th century A.D.) Muhammad Ibn Faalah Mashaashi started his rule in Hoviezah and the surroundings. Then he, and the his son Ali ibn- Muhammad Mashaashi, particularly  later, expanded their rule to all of Khuzestan, Lurestan, Kahgolia, Kerman Shah, Bahrain and southern Iraq.

It was from this era on that the area came to be known as Arabestan, signifiying its Arab character and as well as its Arab inhabitants.

For more detail on this subject you may refer to “500 years history of Khuzesatn”, by Ahmad Kasravi, or my own book the “Arab tribes of Khuzesatn”.

According to Kasravi, the Mashaashid designated Arabic as their official language and ruled independently for 70 years. Later on they became subjects of the Iranian governments.  But for 500 years they did maintain an autonomous status.

Majority of the Mashaashid rulers were poets, scholars or promoters of the Shia Islam.

By the end of the 18th century, the Bani Kaab tribe replaced the now weak Mashaashid as the new rulers of Khuzestan.

In the 2nd half of the 19th century Nasser al-Din Shah (king of Iran) ordered sheikh Jabir al-Kabbi the father of sheikh Khazaal and sheikh Mazaal, and the governor of al-Mohammarah to fight the British troops on his behalf.

The British wanted to capture al-Mohammarah; sheikh Jabir complied with the king order and did fight the British.

You may read about this episode in the book  “the Iran- British war in Mohammarah (Khoramshahr)” by Ahmad Kasravi.

Now we must mention also sheikh Jabir also kept Mohammarah for Iran when he fought, and drove off the Ottoman forces who wanted to snatch the city for their own empire. During the Iran-Iraq war out of the 16000 Khuzastani’s causality of war, fallen in defenseof Iran against the aggressor Iraqi army 12000 were Arab (not clear conscript or volunteer).

Sheikh Mazaal succeeded his father, sheikh Jabir, in becoming the ruler of the area, he strengthened his political and commercials with Tehran and was a partner with the elite of the Qajr court, especially Atabak in the profitable Kuran river shipping trade.

Sheikh Khazaal succeeded his brother and extended his rule to include the eastern part of Khuzestan and added Shoshtar and Dezful to his area of domain.

Although never officially negating his allegiance to the Tehran government but he did rule with complete autonomy.

He was removed from power in 1925 by Reza Shah. He was the last Arab ruler to rule the area.

It has been established by independent Iranian historians that, Reza shah came to power with the full help, support and the blessing of the British Empire.

It has been since coming to power of the Pahlavi regime that, racist historians have tried to falsify the history of Khuzestan, these historians have completely ignored the pre-1925 history of the region. They write history as if there was not a single Arab person living or have ever lived in Khuzestan, nor the fact of Arab rule.

Reza shah and his son-successor pursued a policy of forced  assimilation (persianisation) of all ethnic groups of Iran. Of all ethnic groups of Iran they were most hostile to the Arabs of Khuzestan.

The Pahlavies were dictators and oppressed every one in Iran, for sure, but the non-Persian suffered a double oppression cultural as well as political.

They were denied their own culture, they were denied the right to study, or have radio stations, TV, magazines and books in their mother tongue. Wearing their ethnic clothing was suppressed and so on.

In that era, racist ideology (Persian superiority) was not the monopoly of the ruling elite only, but that of a vast number of the so-called opposition, be it writers, poets and historians.

There were many revolts by the Arabs of Khuzesatn against Reza shah and his son, analysis of which requires a longer period of time.

All the revolts were savagely suppressed and did not yield any fruit.

Arabs of Khuzesatn took an active role in the 1979 revolution. Teachers, clerics, students, intellectuals, and oil worker all participated in the struggle against the Shah. Many of them were killed, in that struggle. No fair-minded historian could deny that.

Alas sometimes, some people who are completely ignorant of the geography, history and the number of the Arabs of Khuzesatn, write things against the Arabs  that are both astonishing and cause for anguish.

I have given a concise history of the Arabs of Khuzesatn, using reputable sources.

In addition to Tabari’s history book, and books of Ahmad Kasravi, I will mention other books here that are good source for Khuzesatn Arabs history, culture, language and way of life.

1-al-Boldan by Ahmad bin abi Yaaghob

2-Soreat al –Aredh by ibn Haghol

3-Misalik va Mamalik  by astakhri

4-Nasser Khssrow travelogue by Nasser Khssrow

5-Farsnameh ibn Balkhi

6-Ahsan-el Taghalim fi Maarafat al Aghalim by al-Kamil

7-Ibin Athir

8-IBin Batotu travels book

9- Habib al-Sair

10-Khondmier

11-Aalam Araie Safavie

12-Tazkareah Shoshter

13-Ghadhi Nourallah Shoshtari

14-Aalam Araie Abbassi

15-Askendar Beg

16-Aalam araie Naderi (Safvids & Zandeh eras)

17-Farsnameah  nasseri

18-Safernameh arabistan(arabistan travelouge)  by  najm al molik ghafari

19-Safarnameh Arabestan-Lourestan by baron David

20-Niebur travelogue

21-Layard travelogue

22-Loremar travelouge

23-diva lofa travelouge

24-Mardom Shinasi Iran   by Henry Field

25-history of Iran by sir Percy Cox

26-Shiekh Khazaal and the kingship of Reza shah by sir Percy Loren

27-Persia and the Persian question-   by lord Curzon

All the above travelogues have been translated in to Persian.

In addition to the “500 year history of Khuzesatn” , Kasravi has another book by the name of “ The Forgotten Kings”, parts of which covers Khuzesatn Arabs ancient  history.

Other books that may be of help to you in this field are

1-the Arab tribes of Khuzesatn by myself (Yossef Azzizzi)

2-the booklet, “about the Arabs of Khuzesatn” also by me.

3-the geographical history of the Arabs of Khuzesatn by Mossa Seadat

4-history of Khuzesatn from Afsharid till the present time   – by Mossa Seadat

5-the historical ruins and buildings of Khuzesatn    -by Ahmad Aghtedari

6-the geographical history of Khuzestan       by   Muhammad Ali Imam Shoshtari

7-a history of Khuzesatn         by Mustafa Ansari. University of Chicago, 1971

8. Study of Britich Imperialism in Southwestern Iran and the Municipality of Arabistan, by William Strunk, University of Indiana, 1976.

9. The images of Arabs in Modern Persian Literature, by Joya Blondel Saad, University of Texas, Saint Antonio, 1996 (also recently translated into English in Tehran).

Also books and articles by the fallowing

1-Kazem Kazempour

2-Hamid Tourfai

3- Kazem Ali nejad.

As I mentioned earlier the historical and reputable book of professor Javad Ali, the complete history of the pre-Islam Arabs, does say that the Arabs were living in southeast and south east Iran (Khuzestan, Kerman, Fars and Bahrain). They were present in Iran before the Aryans set their foot in Iran

2 volumes of the 10 volumes of the above books have been translated into Farsi.

As I mentioned earlier Tabari also mentions the presence of the Arabs in the above areas before the arrival of the Aryans.

The historical course of the make up of the Khuzestani Arabs:

I made use of Tabari’s history about his writing on the presence of the Arabs in Khuzesatn in the pre-Islamic era.

After the fall of the Sassanid class based society at the hand of the Arab Muslim conquerors (during the time of caliph Omar), some Arab tribes not only immigrated to Khuzesatn butt also to other regions of Iran. In particular to Quam, Kerman, Khorasn, Yazd and Kashan.

In Islamic 4th century (11th century A.D.) Ibin Haghol in his book Soreat al Eardh writes:

“The people of Khuzesatn beside Arabic and Persian speak in Khozi as well. Which is neither Hebrew or Syranic, nor Persian.”

In the Islamic 3rd century (10th century A.D.) Astakhri in his Massalik va Mammalik writes: “ most people in Khuzesatn speak Arabic and know Persian also they also know Khozi very well. “

These historical sources tell us that till 4th century (Islamic calendar) 11th century A.D. beside Arabic and Persian there was another language, named khozi, which also was spoken in the area. This language was later extinct and by the time the 9th century arrived (16th century A.D.). The now ruling Mashaashid proclaim Arabic as the official language of the land.  And enjoyed some growth, Persian language was marginalized, by that I mean it was only spoken in the cities of Dezful and Shoshtar and the northern part of the province. This situation continued till the fall of sheikh Khazaal in 1925.

Due to the racist nature of the Reza shah regime, his government implemented chauvinistic policies to change the demography of the region to the determent of the Arab population.

Reza shah encouraged both natural immigration and forced resettlements.

There can be no opposition to natural immigration obviously.                                    However with the recommendation of an agent of the British Empire, Shapour-j an Indian Parsi, who was known for his anti-Arab chauvinism. Unnatural immigration was encouraged. Old folks in Khuzesatn speak of trucks full of outsiders use to come to Khuzesatn, passengers were then disembarked, and many such trips took place   so   that the demography of the area changes.

As I said before I am not against natural immigration, especially since Arabs also can immigrate to other parts of Iran. But the massive immigration of non-Arabs has been to the determent of the local Arab population.

If the Arabs of Khuzesatn are not allowed to study in their mother tongue and have their own newspapers and magazines, the result will be identity crisis, the weakening of their culture and eventually melting in the culture of the ruling ethnicity.

The ruling ethnic group, which controls all the tools of power in Iran, needs to allow the Arabs of khuzistan to exercise their culture rights.

Historical course of naming the province and its cities:

According to Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari and other historians, Khuzestan in the pre-Islam era   was called al-Ahwaz.. in other words Ahwas was the name of the province.

Its capital was sough al-Ahwaz.

Till the 4th Islamic century (11th century A.D.) and the Bauia era the name was al-Ahwas.

The name Khuzestan appears in the book “Hdod al-Aalam min al-Mishrag ala al al-Maghrib” (borders of the world east to west), the author of this book is unknown.

But we know it was written in the Islamic year 372 (11th century A.D.)

And it says this:   “the source of the Khuzestani, Mesraghan or Karun river is in Shoshtar and then goes to Ahwaz “

Despite the fact that Ahmad Kasravi espoused Persian nationalist tendencies, his book 500 years history of Khuzesatn, like his other historical writing on the area is a reliable and important source.

He writes in his book:  “ in the eras of shah Ismael and shah tahmasib the western part of Khuzesatn which was ruled by the Mashaashid was called Arabestan. So that it could be distinguished from its eastern part, Shoshtar and Rmhormoz, which were ruled by the Safvids appointees.”

This means after the fall of the Sassanid, there was an increase in the Arab population of the region so that in the Mongol era an Arab dynasty not only ruled all of Khuzesatn but also Kahkolia, Boeir Ahmad, Kerman-shah and parts of Iraq , this big country was came to be known as Arabestan. Which is a Persian word and means the land of the Arabs.

A name similar to Gilan, Mazandran, Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari, Lurestan , Baluchestan, Kurdistan and Azerbaijan. Which are the residing places of the Gilaks, Mazanis, Bakhtiari, Lurs, baluchs, Kurds, and Turkish Azeris.

Kasravi in his book the 500 years history of Khuzesatn writes: “ we see this name (Arabestan) for the first time in Ghazi Nourallah Shoshtari’s book, a book which he started writing in the lifetime of Shah Tahmasib  and finished it after the death of that king.

From the 9th Islamic century (16th century A.D.)  Which is also the same time that the Mashaashid dynasty was established in Hoviezah till the end of the Safvids, the northern and eastern part of the region was called Khuzesatn where as the southern and western part was named Arabestan. In that era the two cities of Shoshtar and Dezful were part of Khuzestan. But it was from Nader Shah time and through the Afsharids , Zndeah and Qajr period, that  the whole region of present  day  Khuzesatn was called Arabestan.

In 1925, after the fall of sheikh Khazaal. Reza shah after consulting with Sapour-J and his other chauvinistic advisers disallowed the use of the name Arabestan and started using the name Khuzesatn.

You will notice that no other province of Iran had its name changed except that of Arabestan.

Lurestan, Chahar Mahal Backstairs, Kurdistan, Azerbaijan Baluchestan, Gilan, Mazandaran,  are all names  to signify the presence of  Lurs, Bakhtiari, Kurds, Azeris, Baluchs ,Gilaks and  Mazanis   but the anti-Arab  racists ,because of their hate of the word Arab decided to remove it from the Iranian map. But this was not all they wanted to remove.  Their real aim was ethnic cleansing.   Removing Arab identity, culture and presence was their objective.

Chagrining the name Arabestan to Khuzestan was just a start.

With chauvinists such as Zabih Behrooz and Saadagh Kia, as its directors, the first Iranian Farhangestan (cultural academy) continued the racist policies of Shapour j.

It was the farhngestan that in the years 1934-1935 changed many names of the cities in Khuzestan this policy of renaming Arab names to Persian names continues to this day.

The aim is simple.

The removal of all Arabic traces from Khuzestan and to cleanse the area anything Arabic, no doubt had racist/chauvinist objectives

The following table is merely a small sample of names have been changed so far.

New name                                  original name (Arabic-Iranian)

1-Dasht Mishan                                               Bani Turoof and Howeizieh

It was changed to Dasht-Azadagan

After the revolution

2-Sosangerd                                                          Khafajiah

3-Hoviezah                                                                 Howeizieh

4-Arwand Rod                                                                Shat al-Arab

5-Abadan                                                                          Aabadan

6-Khoramshahr                                                                 Mohammara

7-Omideah                                                                        Aamidia

8-Agha jari                                                                              Sied jari

9-Shadegan                                                                              Fallahieh

10-Ramshir                                                                                 khalfia-Khalaf Abad

11-Mahshahr                                                                               Maashor

12-Sar-bandar                                                                                    Ras al-mina

13-Bander shapour                                                                            mina khor mossa

14-Andimashk                                                                      Saleh abad

The Pahlavi era Farhangestan changed the county of Hoviezah to Hooazegan, which is very offensive in Arabic; also the mini-county Rafieaa was changed to Kavian.

The Islamic regime has however restored those two, to their original name.

Today most of Khuzestani cities have double names. In Persian and official business people use the Persian name but when Arabs of Khuzestan speak among themselves they use the Arabic name.

For example if you ask an Arab who wants to go to khoramshahr, where is he going?

He will replay to you to Mohammarah, not Khoramshahr.

In other words peoples’ historical-cultural memory has not forgotten the native Arabic (Iranian) names. One can see these duality (formal/popular) of names in all aspect of peoples life.

All these historical Arabic names can be seen in all the historical Persian books of the Qajr, Afsharid, Zandieh, Ssfavids (and even earlier) eras.

Also they may be seen in Khuzastani’s birth certificate, official documents of the foreign ministries, and other official governmental documents.

If you look at Dehkhodas Loghatnameh, encyclopedia Britannica, foreign ministry document, Ahmad Kasravi, Hussein Maki ( a well-known   Iranian  historian)

And Malik al-Shora Bahar (another well known Iranian historian-writer), you will see these names.

At any rate this province was called Arabestan and for five hundred years from shah Tahmasb days  till early Pahlavi era.

The Bakhtiari’s who live next door to us, when they want to travel to our area still say that they want to go to Arabestan rather than Khuzestan.

In the later years of the Pahlavi regime, the regime and the anti-Arab intellectuals of the day tampered with historical books. Each time a book containing the word Arabestan was to be published they changed that name to Khuzesatn.

For example hajj Ghafar Najm al-Molk who was a minister in the Nasser shah era, had written a book by the name of “Travel to Arabestan”.  This book was published in the lifetime of the writer.  In the Pahlavi era this book was re-published under the supervision of Mr. Muhammad Dabir Siaghi, a university lecturer. But the title of the book was changed to “Travel to Khuzesatn”.

Every time the word Arabestan was mentioned it was changed to Khuzestan.  May be that’s intellectual honesty, Iranian- chauvinist style.

Its no wonder that a few years ago that he (Dabir Siaghi) was honored by the ultra-nationalist who are presiding over Iranian national society of the notables (Anjoman Mafakher Meli Iran).

As we can see the names Mohammarah, Arabestan Fallahieah, Khafajiah…are not the work of my imagination nor is it cooked up by a present or past leader of any Arab or foreign country.

Using these names should not be considered as a sign of being a separatist.

These are homegrown, historical Arab Iranian names.

I say Iranian because Iran is not just Persian and not all Iranians are all Persians. This fact (that all Iran is not Persian) has even been recognized by the constitution of the Islamic republic.

I ask you, is it not time to restore those historical names?

The Islamic republic parliament and the regions city councils need to pass laws so that those historical names that were changed by the fascistic minded Pahlavi regime be restored, and thereby satisfy one of the demands of the Arabs of Khuzesatn.

Since the Islamic republic has restored many of the changes that was committed by the Pahlavi regime.

Is it not the time to allow the Arab people of Khuzesatn, wear their traditional clothing, and not only in their leisure time, but at courts, offices and schools.

The influence of the oil industry on the life of the Arabs of Khuzesatn:

Prior to the discovery of oil in well number 1 in Masjed Soleyman, by William Knox Darcy

Tribal tradition and customs was the dominant way of life among the Arabs of Khuzesatn., the city of Mohammarah (present day Khoramshahr) was the only city that experienced political and commercial activity.

The British having secured the right to build an oil refinery from Nasser al-din shah, then went ahead and bought the land for that refinery from sheikh Khazaal.

The British commenced the building of the refinery in 1910.

British colonism was not the only colonist power that the Arabs of Khuzesatn were familiar with, prior to the British; there was the Portuguese colonist.

Sheikh Salman al-Kabbi a capable ruler of the region fought the Portuguese on many occasions, defeating them in a naval battle at one time.

Commercial ties between Mohammarah and outsiders resulted in the growth of commerce and capitalism in the region.

Prior to the discovery of oil, crop production was a main industry of the region Mustafa Ansari in his book” history of Khuzesatn” (translated into Persian by Muhammad Ali Javaher Kalam) writes: in the era of sheikh Mazaal rule Khuzestan was exporting wheat to London

The first factory to be built in Iran was built in Tabriz, then in Tehran. Later on, the establishment of the oil refinery of Abadan laid the foundation stone of the oil industry in Iran.

On that period of history beside the native Arabs, there was only a minority of our Shoshtari and Dezful compatriots, as well as a hand full of Behbahani compatriots, who were active in Ahwaz market.( Sheikh Khazaal, himself was  married to several Behbahani women )

Abadan was a very small town, whose mayor was appointed by sheikh Khazaal. All its inhabitants were of the Arab tribes of Kaab, Adris and Nassar.

The center of Abadan was the residing place of the Arab sayeeds, whose ancestor sayeed Mohammed al-Tafakh, is still buried in Abadan’s central area.

(Sayeed is a descendent of the prophet Mohammed, this term also has the same meaning in several surrounding Arab countries, and in other Arab countries the word sheerif is used for the same meaning).

The establishment of the Abadan oil refinery resulted in a shift of the population make-up.

A flood of immigrant seeking jobs, from southern ports particularly Bushehr, as well as from cities such as Tangistan, Isfahan, Chehar Mahal and Shaher Kurd rushed to the area.

Where as in the era of sheikh Khazaal rule Abadan was 95% Arab’& 5% non-Arab.

By the start of the Iran Iraq war that ratio reached 60% Arab to 40% non-Arab

A lot of people who are called abadani, were either themselves only born in Abadan, or at best their parent was.

Ahmad Kasravi speak of electric lights in Abadan, at the start of the 20th century

In the forties the English built TV and radio stations in Abadan, these were the first in Iran.

In Abadan we see two faces of the British colonizim .in one hand for their own self-interest, they turned a small town of Abadan to a model modern city, on the other hand they also plundered our national riches.

Y abrahimian in his book” Iran between two revolutions”, Speaks of 3 different classes of employees, in the oil refinery of Abadan.

1-engineers and high level managers who were British

2-skilled technicians and workers who were non-Arabs

3- the masses of un-skilled workers, who were native Arabs.

It seems that the world outlooks of shapour j who was friend to both the English and the Reza shah regime and acted as a go between among the two, had something to do with this division of labor.

Over all Khuzesatn is a working class   province, with an Arab majority,  theses two issues, being a working class province, and ethnicity (Arabic) were a major factor in the contemporary history of Iran. And had always been problematic for all the different political systems that ruled in Iran.

In the different historical eras, either of these two issues depending on the prevalent political discourse was prominent.

For instance in the fifties because of the prevalence of the anti-colonist discourse

The labor issue, and in the 1979 revolution and the year or two fallowing it because of the antimonarchist discourse, both the Arab and labor issue were the issues of the day.

But since the 2nd of Khordad events, and talk of democracy, the rights of the Arabs of khuzestan have been the prominent issue.

The Iran Iraq war had a fundamental impact on the city of Abadan, the population of the city dwindled from a million people to that of 250,000, the majority of the people who returned to the city after the war ended, were the native Arabs

The oil refinery, industrial factories, and people’s houses suffered great damages as a result of the war. According to the members of parliaments, representing Abadan and Khoramshahr, only 20 to 30 % of these cities have been rebuilt.

It seems there is no political will for rebuilding those cities. to restore them to their pre-war prosperity.

The excuse is that we are at a no war no peace status with Iraq.

Overall in the cities of Khuzesatn, and Abadan particularly, we are witnessing an uneven and unbalanced development, and we see a gap on the fallowing cultural, social and ethnic levels.

1-the gap between Arabs (poor majority), and the non-Arabs (rich minority)

2-gap between where the oil industry is located verses the places where oil industry is not present.

3-gap between urban and non-urban areas

4-the gap between all the above and the margin-settlers of Ahwaz (the marsh land areas-whom are all Arab)

All these economical, social, and cultural contradictions are structural, and have been shaped during the past 80-90 years; no political system has been successful in solving them.

I like to give you an example so you can visualize the contradictions.

If lets say an Arab of the marsh land, has a simple pneumonia, due to lack of medical facility, his simple illness may turn chronic, and at best he will be taken to the 50 bed hospital in Sosangerd. Where in most probabilities because of the poor standard of the hospital he will end up dead.

If a resident of Shadegan, Khoramshahr or Sosangerd suffers from a skin ,heart , respiratory  or kidney   disease due to the pollution caused by the war , at best case scenario he maybe taken to some provisional hospital, again because  of lack of proper funds he will end up dead.

Now in the case of someone working for the oil industry, not only, has access to well-equipped hospitals, but if needed will be taken to Tehran.

As far as their high level managers go, the oil company has contracts with English hospitals and will have their top people flown to England for treatment.

Now I am not trying to evaluate value systems here, and of course I am not saying people working for the oil industry should not have good facilities.

No what I am saying is that it is really not right for people who do not work in the oil industry to die from simple disease.

It seems that the only thing these people are good for, is that a few hundred years after they die their bones will turn to oil, so the people residing in northern Tehran and few other select favorite cities can get rich, from the sale of that oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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