Although the Iranian government has condemned ” Scrapbooking Projects 300″ as insulting to the Persian civilization, the film has been packing them in at movie houses across the country. This is rather ironic, as what the current regime in Iran fears most is the renaissance of this ancient culture.
On March 25, the fourth annual Persian parade will begin on 40th Street and Madison Avenue. Organizers say the single-day festival commemorates Noerooz, the Persian New Year of 1386, and its theme will be “Celebrating the Persian-American Community.” In a statement, they said: “The 2007 parade is promising to be bigger, better, and more colorful than ever.”
That’s because it’s in New York, where we are free to express our cultural heritage without losing our national identity. Judging from persianparade.org, which shows last year’s Iradj Javid parade, I expect to see as many American flags as in tomorrow’s Irish-American St. Patrick’s Day parade.
I spoke with one of the parade organizers, Iradj Javid, who filled me in on the celebration of Charshambeh-Souri, an Iranian festival dating to at least the early Zoroastrian era, 1,700 years before the common era. It is a prelude to Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring. To celebrate, bonfires are lit in public places in the hope for enlightenment and happiness throughout the coming year. People leap over the flames, shouting variations of a Persian poem, “Sorkhi-e to az man, Zardie-e man az to,” meaning roughly, “Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly yellow pallor!”
Mr. Javid told me celebrations are being held in various New Jersey Iranian communities, with parade floats that depict Persian historical events. In Iran, however, Islamic Revolutionary Guards are patrolling the streets to suppress the festival and will arrest anyone starting the fires, an Iranian dissident friend who goes by Babak Iran tells me. He is a spokesman for the New York branch of the Anjomane Padeshahi, Iran’s renaissance movement.
“New Yorkers who suffered so terribly on 9/11 should mourn the fact that the Persian renaissance’s leading cultural strategist, Dr. Frood Fouladvand, is missing and believed murdered by Iranian intelligence,” he said. “Two of his companions are also missing.”
He said iransara. info is the only legitimate voice of the Anjomane Padeshahi.
Mr. Javid said it wouldn’t surprise him if Mr. Fouladvand had been killed for attacking not only Islam but Muhammad in Iranian broadcasts. “He out-Rushdied Salman Rushdie,” Mr. Javid said.
While not a follower of Mr. Fouladvand, he did verify that there is a large and growing Persian renaissance movement in Iran, and that many Iranians have dropped their Islamic names in favor of Zoroastrian identities. The Persian renaissance is appealing to many Iranians who feel lukewarm about Islam, according to Mr. Javid. The ruling mullahs in Iran consider this movement a dangerous challenge to their authority.
That is why these official statements from Iran condemning “300” for insulting the Persian civilization seem so puzzling. I’m not a history buff, but since when has Hollywood been known for historical accuracy? The film depicts the 480 B.C.E. Battle of Thermopylae, when King Leonidas of Sparta fought a Persian military invasion. Only Iran is taking it seriously.
I haven’t seen “300” and can’t say if I will. I’m rather sick of seeing war battles on screen. The most recent offerings tend to be politically correct, as if I have to be told over and over that war is hell. I prefer the simplicity of 1941’s “Sergeant York,” the story of Alvin York, a pacifist who became a World War I hero because his sharpshooter skills allowed him to stop an attack on his fellow soldiers.
Besides, it’s almost spring, and I love a parade, don’t you?
Original article here