The Iranian Minister of Education claims that formal education in languages other than Farsi should be outlawed due to its “dangerous” connotations. The notion was dismissed as unconstitutional and absurd by Iranian members of parliament. Minister of Education Mohammad Bathaei stated that, “In some areas, we have seen teaching in local languages, which is a very dangerous matter. Children learn their local language at home. So they have to learn the formal language – Persian – at school. Schools are the only place that can promote the Persian language as a red line of the unity of Iran.” The Islamic Republic is already an extremely strict regime that severely limits the freedoms allotted to women and those who would live life outside of the Islamic context.
While the national language of Iran is Farsi, there are many citizens of several ethnicities that speak many different of languages. Minister of Parliament Hadi Bahadori responded to Bathaei’s comments by noting that, “We have three languages in Iran: Farsi, Turkish, and Arabic,” based off the larger ethnic groups. He added that, “Other languages like Kurdish, Lori, Gilaki, and Mazzini are part of Persian. In fact, in Iran we have only Turkish and [Farsi] as the two languages with a large number of speakers.”
Parliament Minister Jalal Mahmodzadeh, who is Kurdish, scoffed at the remark by saying, “What the Mister of Education said is baseless,” and not rooted in factual information. He added that, “The minister of education and the president have no practical plan for promoting Article 15 of the constitution.” Under Article 15, ethnically relevant languages other than Farsi may be utilized as languages of educational study. Bathaei had insisted that Kurdish was a dialect of the “Persian” language, Mahmodzadeh refuted this by stating that, “Kurdish is a living language with a long history. About 50 million people speak this language. [The] Kurdish language is not part of [the] Persian language.”
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