Iranian Teacher Racially Abuses Ahwazi Children For Speaking Arabic
By Rahim Hamid
20 April, 2016
A Persian Iranian teacher reportedly punished two Ahwazi Arab primary school pupils for speaking with each other in their Arabic mother tongue last week by forcing them to wash out their mouths with soap and water, warning other pupils that they would face the same punishment if he heard them speaking Arabic or if they were reported to have done so in his absence.
The latest incident of overt anti-Arab prejudice from a regime official, which took place at a school in the Amaniyeh neighbourhood of the regional capital, Ahwaz, has sparked outrage among Ahwazi people, who already face extensive apartheid-style laws outlawing their Arab language, dress, and culture.
Speaking to ‘Arabi 21,’ prominent human rights activist Abdul Karim Dahimi condemned the teacher’s “heinous act,” adding that such overt and shameful racism towards young children exceeds even the customary brutal anti-Arab prejudice from the regime.
Dahimi explained that Ahwazi Arabs are forbidden from speaking their native language, despite the fact that it is “the language of the Quran and the mother tongue of the Arab people of Ahwaz,” adding that this “despicably ugly incident shows the extent of Iranian teachers’ hatred towards Arab language and culture since they consider all things related to Arabs to be filth.”
Other activists pointed out that although the Iranian regime’s constitution, specifically Articles 15 and 19, explicitly allow Ahwazi Arabs to be educated in their own Arabic language, in practice those articles of the constitution which pertain to non-Persian Iranians are disregarded by the regime, with the Persian language being forcibly imposed on the Ahwazis for decades as the sole language permitted.
Dahimi, a former teacher, told Arabi 21, “In recent years, anti-Arab hatred and Iranian supremacism have trickled down from the Iranian elite to the mainstream among the Persian community, and today we see these acts and this sort of racist behaviour recurring extensively against Ahwazi people, going unchecked even in a nation which calls itself Islamic.”
Talking about the latest incident involving the teacher’s abuse of the two children, the activist said, “The parents of these children raised complaints about the Iranian teacher’s racist crime, but they haven’t seen any serious legal action by the Department of Education officials against this racist teacher. We demand that [the education department] take legal action against this teacher and bring him to trial so that Arab students can’t be insulted, with legislation outlawing such abuse included in all international laws regarding crimes against children.”
Ahwazi activists point out that offensive racist depictions of Arabs are common in Iranian media which show a deep contempt for Arab culture and identity and use derogatory terms throughout even supposedly serious programs. Whilst Iranian regime officials claim that their abusive anti-Arab rhetoric and media coverage is directed solely against the regime’s Saudi opponents, this excuse is extremely unconvincing to Ahwazis, who have been subjected to such abuse for decades.
Rahim Hamid, a freelance journalist and human rights advocate