The younger generation of ethnic Turkmen is increasingly adopting Iranian ways, even discarding their own language in favour of Persian.
Azim Gorbanzadeh was shocked at what he found when he
visited his home town of Gonbad-e-Kavus in northeast Iran, almost 12 years since
Gorbanzadeh, a doctor who graduated in the
All the signposts and shop names were now in Persian rather than Turkmen, and young women were dressed in the black robes and headscarves of
Even the language - closer to Turkish than Persian - was going, said Gorbanzadeh, who is Turkmen himself. Young people chatting in the street mixed in so many Persian words that their speech was barely recognisable as Turkmen at all.
Gorbanzadeh recalled, "I went to visit my uncle and was about to knock on the door when a young boy run toward me.... He shouted, 'Dad - a man from
"This shocked me, but later I realised that this boy, my 14-year-old nephew Jamshid, was one of thousands in the new Turkmen generation who not only have an Iranian name but talk in Persian, which they view it as a symbol of modernity."
Most of the Turkmen in
The Turkmen - Sunni Muslims in a theocratic Shia state - feel disadvantaged for both ethnic and religious reasons.
According to Araz Perwish, a Turkmen historian based in
Perwish puts the decline of Turkmen language down to the exclusive use of Persian in schools.
He warns, 'It's the beginning of the devastation of a nation, where in addition to this [Persian-language education], there is a law on wearing Iranian-style dress, it's forbidden to give Turkmen names to babies, one has to speak Persian, and the dominant messages are about Iranian nationalism and religion."
There is little in the way of Turkmen-language media, which is subject to censorship and closure. There is a short programme in Turkmen broadcast in the town of
Two months ago, Sahra, one of the few newspapers in Turkmen, was closed after it quoted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as rejecting an appeal for investment in the mainly Turkmen northeast.
"You didn't support me in the election, so go and ask for help from those you voted for," the title quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Part of the reason why
However, the regime in
Muhammad Tahir is a journalist and broadcaster based in
... Payvand News - 3/27/06 ... --