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On May 12, 2006, Iran Daily, an official state newspaper published a cartoon degrading and humiliating Azerbaijanis. This caused peaceful demonstrations of Azerbaijanis against the cartoon. In May 22, 2006 hundreds thousands of people in Tabriz took to the streets to condemn the cartoon. The peaceful demonstration of the people was pushed down bloody with Iran authorities. The deadly protests occurred in the city of Naghadeh, and followed widespread demonstrations in Ardabil, Zenjan, Urmiya and other cities.

At least 27 people were killed and more than 100 people were injured in demonstrations in the Azerbaijani region, northwest of Iran. The large numbers of people attending the demonstrations were arrested. Most of the Azerbaijani cultural and human rights activists were threaten to not attend the protests or not invite people to participate in the protests. The detained activists, which were taken to Iran Intelligence Service, were tortured and forced to sign papers to not participate in the same activities.

The event was not only protests against the cartoon. It is more than 80 years that the policy of assimilation against non-Persian ethnics is followed by Iran regimes, both Pahlavi dynasty and the Islamist regime. Azerbaijanis are faced with the fundamental human rights violations. The Azerbaijani people have no political right to represent themselves in the country with their own ethnic identity. They are deprived of education in their own language, noting that Azerbaijanis constitute more than 30 percent of Iran population.

This year also before May 22 Iran authorities have started the detentions of the cultural and human rights activists. Also the threats have begun to prevent people from organizing demonstrations and participating in the protests. People have the right to organize any peaceful demonstrations even according to Iran Constitution, but authorities do not let people to use their constitutional right.

Threatening, detentions and tortures do not stop the movement of the Azerbaijani people in the way of demanding their basic cultural and political rights. The ethnic demands become stronger in Iran, and along with Azerbaijanis other ethnic groups also have started their movements to gain their rights.

Iran authorities refusing the demands of ethnics are taking the country into a probable ethnic volatile. If Iran regime wants to protect the unity of the country the only way is giving the rights of the ethnics. Any other solution may bring greater problems which may take Iran to ethnic clashes.

   

Nation as the imagined community

Benedict Anderson

"The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.


 

"In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.

 

"It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. Renan referred to this imagining in his suavely back-handed way when he wrote that 'Or l’essence d'une nation est que tons les individus aient beaucoup de choses en commun, et aussi que tous aient oublié bien des choses.” With a certain ferocity Gellner makes a comparable point when he rules that 'Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist.' The drawback to this formulation, however, is that Gellner is so anxious to show that nationalism masquerades under false pretences that he assimilates 'invention' to 'fabrication' and 'falsity', rather than to 'imagining' and 'creation'. In this way he implies that 'true' communities exist which can be advantageously juxtaposed to nations. In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined. Javanese villagers have always known that they are connected to people they have never seen, but these ties were once imagined particularistically-as indefinitely stretchable nets of kinship and clientship. Until quite recently, the Javanese language had no word meaning the abstraction 'society.' We may today think of the French aristocracy of the ancien régime as a class; but surely it was imagined this way only very late. To the question 'Who is the ‘Comte de X?’ the normal answer would have been, not 'a member of the aristocracy,' but 'the lord of X, 'the uncle of the Baronne de Y,'or 'a client of the Duc de Z.'

 

"The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.

 

"It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destorying the legitamcy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism between each faith's ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.

 

"Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

 

"These deaths bring us abruptly face to face with the central problem posed by nationalism: what makes the shrunken imaginings of recent history (scarcely more than two centuries) generate such colossal sacrifices? I believe that the beginnings of an answer lie in the cultural roots of nationalism."

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition ed. London and New York: Verso, 1991, pp. 5-7.

The book 

 
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