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World News

Origins of Diversity in the Middle East (Show 6: 26 August 2014)

todayAugust 27, 2014 5

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While striving for diversity in our modern institutions today, one may be surprised to learn, that the practice is an ancient endeavor. In the first millennium before Christ, there existed two superpower empires; one that of the Persian Empire and the other, that of the Greek’s. Centuries later, Persia arose from ashes and faced the Greeks’ imperial inheritor, the Roman Empire. And finally, the ancient world became a second time divided among two last empires, that of the Persian and the Byzantine Empire. The former fell to the Arabs and the later to the Ottoman Turks.


However, as early as 550 B.C. before the Greeks and Persians had begun to maneuver for dominance, the first king of the Persian Empire, Cyrus, had put out the first declaration of human rights thereby abolishing slavery and instituting paid labor. Many men, and women, from the world of ancient time, flocked to Persia in order not only to obtain freedom but to start earning spending income.

In the Middle Eastern community that followed, many languages and cultures began to be clustered closely to one another. However, in Greece, each city-state was fairly independent until Alexander the Great forcibly united the city-states into one Greek-Macedonian empire. However, slavery and social stratification not only had been practiced among the Greeks, such practices continued to persist even after the rise of the Macedonian Empire under Alexander.


The succeeding Roman Empire had followed suit in that social and servitude classifications and even put them into codified laws. But after the fall of Rome, the invading barbarians, simply because of their population makeup, created diversified populace in the vast Roman dominion in Europe and North Africa. The invaders consisted of a myriad of tribes such as Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, Allemanni, and Vandals.

In the Middle East, Cyrus’ legacy had persisted and multitudes of peoples and customs continued to interact with one another. This practice persisted when the Arabs laid ruin upon the Persian Empire in the 7th century A.D. Despite their monolithic tribal customs and precepts, a bona-fide Arab rule did not truly last even in Persia and in less than a century, in 750 A.D., a mixed indigenous Arab-Persian rebellion overthrew the exclusivist-oriented Umayyad Arab rule.

Life under the new Abbasid dynasty began to flourish once again culminating in what is known as the Islamic Golden Age. It is highly plausible that the catalyst for 750 revolt was the diverse and mixed race traditions and practices that nomadic Arabs had violated in favor of their single-minded rule. Those traditions had been in practice since Cyrus’ proclamation of human rights.

Life under Persianized Abbasid dynasty
Life under Persianized Abbasid Dynasty in the Middle East

By contrast, the divisive nature of the Middle East today dates its origin to the 1979 revolution in Iran where a Shia Islamic government became the law of the land and thereby disenfranchising many non-Shia and non-Moslem members of various societies. But even that episode did not survive the times, for as in 2014 World Cup, one could witness how the Iranian soccer team was made-up; its team captain was a non-Moslem but native-born Armenian!

Perso-Armenian Team Captain Andranik Teymourian

But even before 1979, nearly every nation in the Middle East consisted of diversified communities. They included not only Imperial Iran, but also Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and most notably Lebanon. So, when today one looks at the ugly and hateful landscape of the Middle East when terror groups such as al-Qaeda, the Talibans, and ISIS terrorize civilian life and …

The Talibans in Afghanistan
al-Qaeda Terrorists
ISIS terror group members

… where other exclusivist armed movements such as Hamas in Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran have taken rule, one wonders what caused the longstanding tradition of tolerance and acceptance that Cyrus had instituted and had been the modus operandi in the Middle East, to wane and disappear.

Iran in Iran
Hezbollahs in Iran
hezballoh in lebanon
Hezbollahs in Lebanon
Hamas Forces in Control of the Gaza Strip

It might be refreshing to note that even though institutional and governmental systems have established segregation, the Middle Eastern peoples, the civilians, persist in practicing open-mindedness. As such, today’s guest, Armen Khosrowbeik is one such example. This gentleman hails from the officially-established theocratic Shia society in Iran but with a name that is part Armenian (Christian), part Persian (Shia Moslem), and part Turkic (historically Sunni Moslem)!


Origin of Diversity in the Middle East

by Sherwin on Mixcloud



Link on Cyrus the Great

Link on Alexander the Great

Link on Persianized Abbasid Dynasty

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