Iran is obviously far from a paradise and a utopia for many Persian families who feared insecurity and suffered social and psychological issues after the revolution. The atmosphere of instability created through internal conflicts and wars led to frustration and anxiety in Persian families about living a safe and secure life in Iran. Being desperate, many Iranians choose to risk their lives by migrating to different countries. They seek asylum and refuge to find better prospects of living. Over the past decade, most Iranian emigrants left the country due to the state’s severe political upheavals and crackdowns. Instability continued to prevail since the state illegally confiscated the citizens’ assets; the civilians also faced the danger of persecution based on sexual orientation. Therefore, the last resort for them was to escape. Some obtained the necessary documents, flew to other countries, and attained political asylum to set up a new life. Some walked across mountains and jumped over barbed wires, and languished in refugee camps, making an effort to settle a new life.
The book, Persian Wars, written by Bahman Akhavan, chronicles the challenges, social and political issues that Persians in and out of their homeland have faced. The book elucidates the societal and psychological impact of the 1979 Iranian Revolution on civilians. The political insurgency installed a new, ultra-conservative dictatorship that led to instability and insecurity in civilians. Along with facing political disorders, liberalism and a clash of cultural values impacted civil society. Consequently, 3 million of them have emigrated to all parts of the world, having had to adapt, assimilate, and reinvent themselves.
Deeply rooted in the Persian literature, history, and tradition, the book PERSIAN WARS VOL. 1 HOME AND AWAY consists of 4 separate and unrelated stories that explain the lives of different Iranian individuals and families from different backgrounds and settings, struggling with their conflicts and challenges. Establishing a connection with history, culture, and the modern era, the stories expound on the Persian families’ hardships while seeking refuge in foreign places. Though they made an effort to leave their homeland, the Persian families suffered cultural shock and identity crisis. To some Persians, traditional values, legal and moral responsibility, and social rights were complex issues they found hard to cope with.
Story two of the bookportrays the story of Persian families who desire to escape and seek political asylum in another state. The story is about Manouchehr, an Iranian Baha’i couple who aims to travel to Haifa, home of the Baha’i Center, to escape persecution in Iran. Like the early Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire, the Iranian Baha families have been persecuted by the Iranian state.
To know about the Baha community, the readers learned that Bahai’s families, before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, were leading a peaceful and prosperous life; their business flourished and had a thriving lifestyle. Conversely, circumstances changed for Bahai’s families in Iran after the revolution. The families faced hardships; they were imprisoned and faced persecution. Being afraid and anxious about an uncertain future in their homeland, these families were compelled to escape to other countries.
The book explains that among other Baha families, Manouchehr and Sara Sardarkhah decided to leave their homeland for the sake of peace and security. They left Iran and reached Haifa through Turkey, expecting that they get facilitation from the Baha’i Center to join their relatives in Canada. Baha’i Center, located in the coastal city of Haifa, was a revolutionary movement that helped Baha families to find refuge in other states. While staying in Haifa, Manouchehr rented an apartment to have a better and safer life. However, they were waiting to obtain exit permits from the Israeli Security office to reach Canada’s intended destination.
The story reached the climax when Manouchehr was interrogated by national security officials. Manouchehr informed them that they sought help from the Baha’i Center to get security clearance from the Israeli government. During interrogation with the Israeli military, Manouchehr was questioned by the military officials regarding his involvement with the Department of Information and Security of Iran. Manouchehr was accused of being part of SAVAK who spy against the Israel state. However, Manouchehr provided them with clear information that his task was to provide information to the government regarding people looking for assistance from the government to find relevant work and occupation.
writes about prejudices about Bahai,
“You don’t know what it is like for Baha’is in Iran. Jews have rights, Christians have rights, Armenians have rights, Zoroastrians have rights. They may be despised, but they are protected, not so for Baha’is. We are looked at as stray dogs with fleas. We are looked at as people who stabbed the Prophet Mohammad in the back. If they could, and maybe one day they will, they will throw all of us Bahai’s in a large ditch and pour acid on us, then set us on fire, then spray us with bullets.”
The end of the story relates through the assistance of another Israeli official, Manouchehr became relaxed that he found a way to obtain the necessary permits and reach their intended destination, Canada.
It is a must-read book for everyone, the Persian community, other minority communities, anybody who is curious about or interested in other cultures, and anyone interested in reading stories touching the heart. The readers will feel inspired to learn acceptance without prejudice or judgment. The theme, characters, and plot will engross the readers to learn the universal struggle to overcome challenges through understanding and transformation.