Armenians of Iran are considered most civilized of all Iranians. These folk live here like an European nation. While whole country suffers from lack of schools and drowning in ignorance, this nation have their own schools and learn every type of subjects.

Iran is a strange ironic and feudal, therefore it is a country with no law and unlovable because of tyranny and injustice – despite that Armenians lived in Iran quite well and free. They have not suffered from Iranian despotism and fared well.

Iranian khans, landowners and strongmen always poured their hate and tyranny on Muslimfolk while Armenians were untouched by their fury. This privileged status enabled them to civilize their society. In fact nowadays you would see Armenian society in Tabriz everywhere. You would be amazed by their welfare, unity, education, church and society. 

Today I saw a brochure being shared in Armenian language. I took one and had it translated. Translators told me Armenian intellectuals will hold a soirée in the Armenian Garden. It was interesting for me, so I took my chance to observe Iranian Armenians’ culture. I would feel a bit joyful if I see progressed part of Iranian civilization.

I suggested one or two young Iranian intellectuals to join me for the soirée. They told me that they can’t, since muslims are not allowed to Garden. I didn’t believe, because how could Armenians discriminate Iranian muslims? How could that be, since Armenians lived in peace, free from tyranny and harmony for all these ages in Iran? They fared well more than muslims economically. How is this possible? Even nowaday these Armenians hold their hands together with muslims and die for freedom together, they get martyred for motherland together.

Even after disasters they faced during age of Red Sultan Hamid, Armenians did not do such thing in Turkey, wouldn’t. How could they do such thing in friendly Iran? It’s not possible. It’s probably a misunderstanding, I have to investigate.

I went there, bought a ticket, arrived at Garden. Nobody told me anything. I saw some familiar Armenians, told them jokingly “how come they let me in?” They smiled at me embarrassingly.

So I digged a bit, seems it is true. But they tell me it’s because some people don’t know how to behave next to women in such events, otherwise civilized men are welcome. “We bring our [muslim] friends often.” After this briefing, my Armenian acquaintances introduced me to other Armenians and their Armenian wives. We were chatting, walking, having time.

They complained me about the leadership of committee which organized the society and owned the Garden – they were bigot, fanatical nationalists. According to them most of Armenian merchants were hooligans, supporter of despotism, nationalist and radicals. Young Armenians are fighting back against them. But they are not powerful yet.

We had chat and conversations about Iranian politics, revolution till night. We told each other goodbyes and they invited me again for their soirées. I thanked them.

After a while my colleague from “Russkoye Slovo”, his dear wife and me were on our way passing from front of the Armenian Garden. We decided to stop at garden and have a cup of water since it was hot out there. We asked for water on the balcony which was next to canteen. For some reasons my colleague went to canteen, his wife and me left alone. We had talks about how Armenians are humble, civilized nation and they are faring well in such awful country like Iran.

Suddenly an Armenian walked next to us and asked me if I can come with them for a minute. I followed him. We had a little chat under a lonely tree umbrage. He was looking embarrassed and told me this in Russian:

“I am very sad that I am the only one talking Russian in our committee. I have to tell you that Muslims are not allowed to our garden. Please accept my apologies.”

I don’t know why these Turkish speaking Armenians had to find a Russian speaking Armenian to talk to me. May be they thought speaking in Russian is a more civilized way of forcing me out.

— This is barbaric, uncivilized! – I protested and vowed not to step in the garden any more.
— You are right, sir. It is barbaric. But I have to show you the way. I am not the guilty one.

When I told my colleagues about the story, they too felt disgusted and left the Garden. This man who told me that was just doing his job apparently was also a teacher. We protested and criticized him, continued on our ways. However we were sorry about people those were in such depth of savage nationalism, religious fanaticism and bad manners.

You would feel sorry and hate for that ancient country which was insulted by her own children. Poor Iran!

Nationalism! You feel sorry for other people, you feel ashamed for them!

I strongly criticize and urge international Armenian society to think about this state of affairs, what can it lead to in future. I for myself can’t do anything but call this strange boycott a barbaric act!

This level of nationalism is just messing your nation up.

Mammad Amin Rasulzade

Mammad Amin Rasulzade

This article by Rasulzadeh is from his socialist era when he was working for Taraqqi newspaper and based in Tabriz. Article was first appeared on 29 June 1909. Translated from Azerbaijani by Cavid Ağa.