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Rampant Racism Against Ethnic Minorities prevails in Iran


Today racism is considered one of the most serious issues that humanity is facing in the world which in our current life regarded as the primary reason for many of the conflicts and clashes

in societies, which are made up of an array of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. Nowadays, racism seriously threatens the unity and coherence of national states even those who are in advanced and developed countries such as the United States of America and West Europe countries. Hence, Iran as a country that its society is composed of different ethnic and religious groups is encountering the danger of dividing the society owing to racism. The objective of this essay is in brief to take a look at racism and the causes of this issue and the victims of this side of human degeneration. Washington post’s map of racism is the motivation of the essay which shows that Iran is among the most racist countries in the world.


The map shows the most racist countries and the developing countries are on the top. This survey is based on a research carried out in a bit to find out, if people prefer citizens from their countries as neighbors or citizens from entirely different countries. As a result, this report attempts to examine racism and its consequences and victims in Iran.

Racism in the National Media

In every country, the media is a necessary means to control and conduct the masses to a required point of cohesion and stabilization that the authorities looking to. The media in every country can be a force to secure harmony and unity or disagreement and division. In Iran the media is an appliance that causes terror and intimidation on masses in order to prevent any objection that people might probably raise against the dictatorship that is ruling the country in a severe and fearful way for more than 35 years. In Iran media is regularly and systematically broadcasting the confessions of the political opponents and other ethnic opposition groups, mainly Arab and Baluch after arresting to implant the fright in people’s’ hearts. Generally, the media in these cases attempts to portray that the Arabian people are terrorists and they are suffering from lack of co-existence with other associations of society and continually insulting the Arab history and culture. Even more, the media steadily justifies   the crimes that government commits in Al-Ahwaz where Arab minority lives such as broadcasting villainous propagandas previous execution operations that authorities implements in Al-Ahwaz.

Another case that proves vividly racism in the Iranian media is the insults, indignity and low profile given to the Turkish people and their language and culture meanwhile Turkish is spoken by more than thirty-five percent of the Iranian population. According to Al Arabiya News (8 November 2015) civil and political activities called for demonstration rally on 8 of November in 2015 against a comic program that was broadcasted by an official channel that was regarded as state television channel.

Racism and Educational system

The system of education in Iran has been working to institutionalize racism and chauvinism in Iranian society through establishing it in the schools and universities. And there are several ways that Iranian authorities are applying the racism in the education:

1: Iranian state since founding the contemporary educational system in previous century, has been following policy of language and identity homogeneity and in light of this policy, the students are educated that they are living in a Persian country and the original Iranian who belong to Aryan race and Aryans who are ancestors of ancient Iranians who had built the Persian civilization and owing to this reason today the country is named Iran. In this approach, other ethnic groups such as Turkish and Arabic who are not considered as Persian are excluded and not recognized as a part of Iranian Identity.

2: The system of education assaults primarily Turkish and Arabic people and their history and culture and this is due to the different reasons advance. The first one is historical which is believed that Turkish and Arabic people in the past invaded the Persian Empire and tried to obliterate the Persian language, religion, and folklores so as to protect the Persian Identity of the country, Turkish and Arabic languages, and cultures must be regarded as a historical enemy of Aryan heritage. The second reason is objective which Iranian state through this policy chases the policy of annihilation of other ethnic and cultural groups of Iranian society. Whereas the Turkish people are forming around forty percent of the population according to a statement from a former Iranian foreign minister Akbar Salehi, this Iranian state policy aims to eradicate specifically Turkish identity through the racist education system.

Roots and reasons for racism

The main roots of racism are related to the epoch of British colonization in the Middle East in the previous century. Iranian intellectuals and ruling class who were connected to the British imperialism had established the view of the superiority of Persian people compared to other nations who have been in their vicinity such as Turkish and Arabian nations. That policy was aiming to consolidate the new nation states those were directly or indirectly built by imperialist powers such as Britain, France and Russia.

Another reason that encourages Iranian state to pursue this policy is to prevent the unity of classes and the ethnic groups in Iran in their struggle against the fascist ruling class. In another hand, the Iranian state is following the policy which called “divide and rule. The significant example is the situation of the working class in Iran.

Victims of racism

The victims of racism in Iran are all the sections of Iranian society which today most of the struggle against the ruling class are facing the danger of divisions and dispersal. Here, the ethnic and religious minorities are targeted more than other sectors in Iran with poverty, illiteracy and unemployment rising in non-Persian areas and provinces specifically Al-Ahwaz or Arabistan.

Despite Iran is a large heterogeneous country regarding race, religion, and culture in the region, the Persian culture and language were dominant on all sectors of the life, business, and politics in the country. The country is composed of multi minorities with a differing ratio of the population include Persian (the largest minority), Azeris or Turks (second largest minority) and Kurds and Arabs, and Bloch races come in next orders. Having their own heritage and history, these non-Persian minorities always struggled within Iranian consecutive states to recognize their identity and cultures. Looking at the geographical population,one realizes that most provinces names in Iran coincide with its inhabitants apart from Khuzestan, which has been changed from Arabistan into Khuzestan after Reza Shah, the founder of Pahlavi dynasty ascended to the throne in 1930’s. Over the past decades, both consecutive Persian regimes and Persian intellectuals in a hegemonic process tried to build or at least portrait one state one color Persian country in many areas such media education and other country aspects. With no control or restriction in Iran legislation to criminalize discriminatory practices and racial offenses against non-Persian nations, subsequently, the hate culture of non-Persian has witnessed ascending trend among Persians.


Racism is a sensitive and factual issue that most people in Iran are suffering from. Racism in Iran is applied systematically by Iranian ruling elites and intellectuals. Racism mainly is targeting the ethnic and religious groups in Iran. Iranian state is using the system of education to pursue its policy in obliterating the languages and cultures of ethnic minorities, especially Turkish and Arabic people. The Iranian state is following this policy seeking the consolidation of the ruling class through dividing the classes and other components of the society in their struggle against Iranian authorities. Finally, this policy is rooted at the beginning of the establishment of the Iranian state which was founded in the early of last century.


1: Rubin, Michael. 2015. Iran should confront its racism. America: Commentary.

2: Rubin, Michael. 2014. Iran’s hypocrisy in condemning U.S racism. CNN.

3: Range against Iran over ‘inherent’ racism toward Azaris. 2015. Istanbul: Turkey DAILY SABAH.

4: Alabbasi, Mamoon. 2015. Iran’s Arab minority: dissent against ‘discrimination’. MIDDLE EAST EYE.

By Heisam Jorfi

Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights


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