Iranian nationalism is solely based on their ancient pre-Islamic history. Millions of Iranians pay homage to their historical sites and name their children and businesses after such ancient personalities and places without really knowing much about them. But somehow as if naturally wired people of Iranian stock know that their pre-Islamic past is what defines them as a people with a unique heritage. It is the natural bond that unites all Iranian people — those in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the Caucasus, the Kurdish areas in Iran/Iraq/Turkey/Syria, etc.
My response to the woman’s simple question is my definition of Iranianism – that is, what made the Achaemenids so special to create and maintain a world empire for more than two centuries were their beliefs in tolerance and inclusion. So ancient Iranian way of life taught tolerance of all religious beliefs and inclusion of all people in the opportunity to live and prosper. That is Iranianism.
With the coming of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranians have been taught intolerance for non-Shiite Muslims and discrimination and inequality among people as witnessed with the regime’s abhorrent treatment of women. So the essence of Iranianism has been and is under attack. Well one’s essence can never change.
Given approximately 60 percent of Iranian population is under the age of 30 (essentially the children of the Islamic revolution), the past and current demonstrations by this generation — the generation trained to advance the goals of the Islamic Republic regime — further validates my belief that people of Iranian stock are somehow naturally wired to defend tolerance and inclusion. They will resist and bring down the Islamic Republic because absent of that they will lose their sense of identity.
We Iranians abroad stand with the people of Iran as they struggle to change their course of history during a time of identity crisis.