Further contributing to this ‘Persian enigma’ is the Iranian government’s isolationist posture since the 1979 Revolution – a posture that has circumscribed any meaningful cultural exchange or open contact with the outside world.
And yet, behind the heavy formal ‘curtail’ of the Islamic Republic that one typically observes in the popular media, lies a highly sophisticated, cosmopolitan Iranian society with a profound self-awareness – an awareness of its ancient culture and history, as well as a sincere yearning for political reform and respect for basic civil liberties.
There has been heightened fascination with Iran since at least 1979.
The recent contested presidential elections and the escalating bras de fer over the country’s nuclear programme have only fed this interest.
It can equally assist in developing options for intelligent and constructive strategic response to Tehran’s belligerence.Still, Iran and Iranians remain very much misunderstood outside of the territorial boundaries of Iran.And this, strangely, for a nation that has been in existence for over 2,500 years – home to one of the world’s earliest and continuous civilizations; one that has made countless contributions to the human condition.Indeed, the recent upheaval in the country over the presidential elections is a clear example of the social dynamism that is alive and well in Iran.
To be sure, the Iranian story has not yet been fully narrated.
Our task in this piece is to explore this exotic diaspora in its various dimensions and possible missions.