Ararat Armenian Sports Club and it’s stars

the Ararat Armenian Sports Club. Vanak is home to a high concentration of Armenians; half of the approximately 80,000 Armenians in Iran live in Tehran, and most of those Tehrani Armenians live within Vanak and its orbit.

The Ararat Armenian Sports Club predates the Revolution and predates Reza Shah Pahlavi.

The Sports Club is home to FC Ararat Tehran, a borderline-defunct soccer club that produced two heroes of Iranians, Armenians, and of course Armenian-Iranians. Andranik Eskandarian played for two years at Ararat before moving onto Taj (now Esteghlal due to yet another Revolution-necessitated makeover) as a stalwart defender. His national teams won the 1968, ‘72, and ‘76 and went to the country’s first World Cup in 1978. Andranik would later move to the United States to play for a legendary New York Cosmos side. A generation later, Andranik Teymourian would play youth ball for Ararat before moving on to Bolton in the English Premier League and one of the most iconic images from the 2006 World Cup: Teymourian collapes after Iran’s game against Angola

Someone like Teymourian can be a hero for Iranians of all religions without a hint of conflict.

The situation of Armenians (and other Christians) in Iran is of course far more normal than prevailing Western discourse may have an outside observer understand. Armenians have different treatment from most Iranians, with special privileges to consume pork, alcohol, and having Sundays off work that Muslims do not enjoy. But they are still effusively Iranian. Surp Khatch, for example, was built in part to memorialize the thousands of Armenian service members killed in the Iran-Iraq War. When Teymourian crosses himself before a match, his countrymen cheer this act as the mark of a pious Iranian.

Unfortunately, these days Ararat FC is far from its glory days. The team last competed in Iran’s top league in the 1995-1996 season.

http://ajammc.com/2012/12/01/towards-an-armenian-iranian-modern-tehran-church-architecture-post-revolutionary-soccer-culture/

Iranian players handed white roses (a symbol of peace in Iran) to the US players prior to soccer match

American and Iranian team players pose before their historic game at the 1998 World Cup in France, which Iran went on to win 2-1.

The game was an exceptionally fair game and both teams received the fairplay award for the 1998 world cup:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_Fair_Play_Award

All USA – Iran must read posts on this site: http://theotheriran.com/tag/usa/

Iran’s exceptional reaction to 9/11 attacks: candlelit vigils for the victims and 60k soccer fans respected a minute’s silence

“Iran’s sympathetic response to the American tragedy has been exceptional for a country under US economic siege for two decades. Only hours after the Sept. 11 attack, President Muhammad Khatami condemned it, as did Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other officials have sent sympathetic messages, including one from the mayor of Tehran to the mayor of New York – the first public official contact between Iran and the US since the 1979 Iranian revolution. […]

More important, 60,000 spectators observed a minute of silence during a soccer match in Iran’s Azadi Stadium, and hundreds of young Iranians held a candle-lit vigil in Tehran.”
Source: The Christian Science Monitor | US and Iran must work together against Taliban by R. K. Ramazani – September 24, 2001

“Iranian women light candles in Tehran’s Mohseni Square in memory of the victims of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. [see first picture above] […]

Even the most hardline Islamic clerics, who despise the United States, have been shocked into silence by the attacks. President Mohammad Khatami set the tone for Iran’s reaction with a statement that in Persian rang with deep compassion: ‘On behalf of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic, I denounce the terrorist measures, which led to the killing of defenseless people, and I express my deep sorrow and sympathy with the American people.’ […]

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the attacks which have been blamed on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. […]

‘Why should Americans deserve this? That’s a sick thought. They are just ordinary people like us,’ said Massoud Moshiri, as he bought cigarettes at a juice stand.” […]
Source: Times.com | Photoessay | Iran mourns America’s dead – September 18, 2001

“Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution, there were no chants of ‘death to America’ at weekly Friday prayers around the country, which are controlled by the conservatives. […]

On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei, in his first public remarks on last week’s attacks, markedly failed to brand the United States an enemy. ‘Islam condemns the massacre of defenseless people, whether Muslim or Christian or others, anywhere and by any means,’ he said, adding pointedly: ‘And so Iran condemns any attack on Afghanistan that may lead to another human tragedy.’ […]

On Tuesday, more than than 3,000 mostly young people held a candlelight vigil in Tehran for the victims of the terror attacks, closely watched by security forces.

One reformist member of Parliament, Ahmad Borghani, even went to the United States interest section at the Swiss Embassy on Tuesday with a wreath of white flowers to sign the memorial book in sympathy with the family’s of the victims. ‘This tragedy has brought the two countries closer,’ he said. ‘But the United States must not expect Iran to cooperate in a military attack — considering our past relations.’
Source: The New York Times | World | A NATION CHALLENGED: TEHRAN; Iran Softens Tone Against the United States by Nazila Fathi – September 21, 2001

“IRAN — President Mohammad Khatami condemned ‘terrorist’ attacks on the United States”
Source: The New York Times | US | Reaction from around the world – September 12, 2001

“Leaders of Middle Eastern nations, including U.S. foes Libya and Iran, have condemned the terror attacks on the U.S. […] Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian president, said he felt ‘deep regret and sympathy with the victims.’ ”
Source: CNN.com | World | Attacks draw mixed response in Mideast – September 12, 2001

“Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate who is struggling for power against the country’s hard-line Islamic leaders, expressed ‘deep regret and sympathy with the victims’ and said ‘it is an international duty to try to undermine terrorism.’ ”
Source: FoxNews.com – September 12, 2001

“And in Iran, Tehran’s main football stadium observed an unprecedented minute’s silence in sympathy with the victims. Iran’s Ayatollah Imami Kashani spoke of a catastrophic act of terrorism which could only be condemned by all Muslims, adding the whole world should mobilise against terrorism.”
Source: BBC News | World | Americas | Islamic world deplores US losses – September 14, 2001

“Even in Tehran, where anti-American chants are all too common, thousands of people attending a World Cup qualifying match between Bahrain and Iran observed a moment of silence.”
Source: The New York Times | US | AFTER THE ATTACKS: THE VIGILS; Surrounded by Grief, People Around the World Pause and Turn to Prayer by Dan Barry – September 15, 2001

“In Iran, antipathy toward the United States was set aside as 60,000 spectators and players observed a minute of silence at the Tehran soccer stadium before a World Cup qualifying match.”
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal | REACTION ABROAD | World grieves along with America by Audrey Woods from Associated Press – September 15, 2001

“Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has strongly condemned the suicide terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. ‘Mass killings of human beings are catastrophic acts which are condemned’ he said ‘wherever they may happen and whoever the perpetrators and the victims may be’. ”
Source: BBC News | World | Middle East | Iran condemns attacks on US – September 17, 2001

“Last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, one of the most conservative and anti-American Muslim clerical leaders, called the fight against terrorism a ‘holy war.’ He joins a host of learned Muslims who have loudly condemned terrorism as forbidden in Islamic law in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11.”
Source: The New York Times | Opinion | Islam and the opposition to terrorism by Roy Mottahedeh – September 30, 2001

“After news of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks spread to Tehran, hundreds of Iranians, students, merchants and housewives joined in a candlelight vigil in a downtown square. Many were crying. Three weeks later, I am still approached by ordinary Iranians, in restaurants, Internet cafes and on the street, telling me how sorry they are, and how worried they are about the ‘American war’ that is about to begin, just next door.”
Source: NBC News | Inside Iran, a nation conflicted by Jim Maceda – October 7, 2001

“On the evening of September 11, 2001, about two hundred young people gathered in Madar Square, on the north side of Tehran, in a spontaneous candlelight vigil to express sympathy and support for the United States. A second vigil, the next night, was attacked by the basij, a volunteer force of religious vigilantes, and then dispersed by the police. […]

The statement that Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s popularly elected President, made was extraordinary — extraordinary to American ears, at least. ‘My deep sympathy goes out to the American nation, particularly those who have suffered from the attacks and also the families of the victims,’ he said. ‘Terrorism is doomed, and the international community should stem it and take effective measures in a bid to eradicate it.’ ”
Source: The New Yorker | Letter from Tehran | Shadow Land by Joe Klein – February 18, 2002

“Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11
A Public Call For Rememberance of the 9/11 Tragedy […]
Now, with the first anniversary of 9/11 tragedy upon us, as SMCCDI expresses its sympathy to the families of the victims and survivors of that ungodly event, and the honorable nation of America; it invites all free spirited Iranians to honor the memory of the victims of that day by gathering and lighting a candle in front of the main entrance of the Tehran university and major public squares in Tehran, and the main squares in other cities and townships, from 6:00 PM till 9:00 PM, on Wednesday 11 September.”
Source: daneshjoo.org | Post 1873 by SMCCDI Political Committee – September 10, 2002

“Finally, I’ve found a pro-American country. Everywhere I’ve gone in Iran, with one exception, people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States […]. Iran is also the only Muslim country I know where citizens responded to the 9/11 attacks with a spontaneous candlelight vigil as a show of sympathy. ”
Source: The New York Times | Opinion | OP-ED Columnist: Those Friendly Iranians by Nicholas D. Kristof – May 5, 2004

“Ordinary Iranians have long had a softer stance toward the West than their leaders; after the Sept. 11 attacks, Iranians held a spontaneous candlelight vigil in Tehran.”
Source: Chicago Tribune | News | Contenders for Iranian presidency talk up U.S. by Evans Osnos – June 12, 2005

“In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium.”
Source: BBC News | Middle East | Iran-US: Gulf of misunderstanding by Gordon Corera – September 25, 2006

“Mourners held a spontaneous candlelight vigil as thousands of people took to the streets of north Tehran chanting, ‘Death to terrorists.’ Iranian soccer fans observed a minute of silence before a match with Bahrain. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the attacks: ‘Mass killing is wrong, whether it’s in Hiroshima, Bosnia, New York, or Washington.’ During Friday prayers at Qom, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini said that the Iranian people grieved with the relatives of those killed, and the traditional slogan ‘Death to America’ was absent from the crowds’ mantras.
Source: Command Posts | Focus on: 9/11, Iran | After 9/11: The United States and Iran by David Crist – September 11, 2012

“Iranians mourn 9/11 victims”
Sources: shabhaft.blogfa.com | Post 134 and LiveLeak.com | Forgotten fact: night of 9/11, Iran – Spontaneous candlelight vigil to express sympathy and support for the American people

Other must read Iran-USA news: The other Iran | Tag | USA

” 2001/09/11, thousands and thousands Iranians went instantly in the streets with candles in homage to the victims ”
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/category/terrorism/september-11/” iranians mourn 9/11 victims ”
http://shabhaft.blogfa.com/post-134.aspx” Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11 ”
http://daneshjoo.org/article/publish/printer_1873.shtml
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=44b_1359356589&comments=1#DDqQZ5dOfJ70MPYf.99
” 2001/09/11, thousands and thousands Iranians went instantly in the streets with candles in homage to the victims ”
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/category/terrorism/september-11/” iranians mourn 9/11 victims ”
http://shabhaft.blogfa.com/post-134.aspx” Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11 ”
http://daneshjoo.org/article/publish/printer_1873.shtml
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=44b_1359356589&comments=1#DDqQZ5dOfJ70MPYf.99In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5377914.stm

Abdol Hossein Sardari – The Iranian Muslim that saved the lives of thousands of Jews from the Nazis

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Abdol Hossein Sardari: Iranian Schindler

An Iranian official risking his life to save Jews? This scenario, while implausible nowadays, actually happened during the Holocaust. Meet Abdol Hossein Sardari, a diplomat at the Iranian mission in Paris during the 1940s. Known as the “Iranian Schindler,” he helped thousands of Jews escape certain death – by turning the Nazi race ideology on its head. […] Born into a privileged Iranian family, Sardari was a junior diplomat at the Paris embassy who enjoyed fine dining and the company of pretty women. After the Germans invaded France and the Iranian ambassador left the capital and went to Vichy to reconstitute the embassy there, Sardari was put in charge of consular affairs in Paris. When the Nazis started implementing anti-Jewish decrees in occupied France, Sardari made it his mission to protect his fellow Iranians in the region, regardless of their religion. […] Writing on the letterhead of the Imperial Consulate of Iran, Sardari tried to convince the authorities that according to “an ethnographic and historical study,” the members of the Jewish communities of Persia and central Asia were not Semitic but rather Aryan, like the Germans themselves. […] Sardari’s plan actually worked. When Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, a directive was issued that Iranian Jews should be exempt. In addition, Sardari gave out between 500 and 1,000 Iranian passports, without the consent of his superiors. This saved 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish lives, as passports were issued for entire families.

Sardari never took any credit for what he did. When Yad Vashem asked him in 1978, three years before he died a poor exile in London, about his wartime activities, he responded: “As you may know, I had the pleasure of being the Iranian consul in Paris during the German occupation of France, and as such it was my duty to save all Iranians, including Iranian Jews.” The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and other Jewish institutions have posthumously honored Sardari for his actions. Read more: Beating the Nazis at their own game | The Times of Israel
The BBC adds:
When Britain and Russia invaded Iran in September 1941, Sardari’s humanitarian task become more perilous. Iran signed a treaty with the Allies and Sardari was ordered by Tehran to return home as soon as possible. But despite being stripped of his diplomatic immunity and status, Sardari resolved to remain in France and carry on helping the Iranian Jews, at considerable risk to his own safety, using money from his inheritance to keep his office going. […] Fariborz Mokhtari, the author of “In the Lion’s Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and his homeland in the Second World War,” a new biography about Sardari states: “Here you have a Muslim Iranian who goes out of his way, risks his life, certainly risks his career and property and everything else, to save fellow Iranians,” he says. “There is no distinction ‘I am Muslim, he is Jew’ or whatever.”

Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province: Saint Stepanos Monastery near Jolfa

The St. Stepanos Monastery (Armenian: Maghardavank) is an Armenian monastery about 15 km northwest of Jolfa, East Azarbaijan Province, northwestern Iran. It is situated in a deep canyon along the Arax river on the Iranian side of the border between Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Iran. Since 2008 it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List together with the St. Thaddeus Monastery and the Chapel of Dzordzor.

The general structure mostly resembles Armenian and Georgian architecture and the inside of the building is adorned with beautiful paintings by Honatanian, a renowned Armenian artist. Hayk Ajimian, an Armenian scholar and historian, recorded that the church was originally built in the ninth century AD, but repeated earthquakes in Azarbaijan completely eroded the previous structure. The church was rebuilt during the rule of Shah Abbas the Second.

History
The first monastery was built in the seventh century (AD 649) and completed in the tenth century. However, St Bartholomew first founded a church on the site around AD 62 but it was partly destroyed during the wars between the Seljuks and the Byzantine Empire in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Following the conquest of the region by the Mongols of Hulagu, grandson of Genghis Khan, in the middle of the thirteenth century, Christians benefited from the favorable Ilkhanid dynasty, and a peace agreement is signed between the Armenian Church and the Ilkhans. The monastery was restored in the second half of the thirteenth century.

The monastery was completely rebuilt in 1330 under the leadership of Zachariah. St. Stepanos Monastery found the height of its cultural and intellectual influence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The monastery produced paintings and illuminated manuscripts, in areas as diverse as religion, history and philosophy.

In the early fifteenth century, the new Safavid dynasty protected the Armenians but the region is at the center of the rivalry between the Safavids and the Ottomans, who invaded Western Armenia in 1513. St. Stepanos in the sixteenth century observed a gradual decline until Shah Abbas I decided to evacuate the region from its inhabitants in 1604. The monastery then was abandoned. From 1650, the Safavids, however, decided to occupy the region again, and the damaged and abandoned St. Stepanos monastery was restored in the middle of the century.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the area became a challenge for the conquest of the Russian Empire. Yerevan was conquered by the Russians in 1827. The border between Persia and Russia was established on the Araxes by the Treaty of Turkmenchay. Consequently part of the population was displaced by force to Russian Armenia. The Qajar rulers continued to protect the Armenians. They encouraged the rebuilding of St. Stepanos Monastery between 1819 and 1825.

The monastery has undergone several restorations recently twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially since 1974.

On UNESCO World Heritage List
The Armenian monasteries in Northwestern Iran have borne continuous testimony, since the origins of Christianity and certainly since the 7th century, to Armenian culture in its relations and contact with the Persian and later the Iranian civilizations. They bear testimony to a very large and refined panorama of architectural and decorative content associated with Armenian culture, in interaction with other regional cultures: Byzantine, Orthodox, Assyrian, Persian and Muslim. The monasteries have survived some 2,000 years of destruction, both of human origin and as a result of natural disasters. They have been rebuilt several times in a spirit in keeping with Armenian cultural traditions.

Further information: Iran Chamber Society | Church of Saint Stephanos

Sources: Wikipedia | Saint Stepanos MonasteryIran Chamber Society | Historical Churches in Iran, Tishineh | St. Stepanos Monastery, Wikimedia Commons | Saint Stepanos Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage List | Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, IRNA | Photos 1, IRNA | Photos 2

Photo gallery: Citadel of Furg in Birjand, Iran

The Citadel of Furg, or Arg e Furg, is a citadel from the 12th century, located in Iran’s South Khorasan province 90 km east of the city of Birjand. The citadel was founded by Meerza Muhammad Rafiee Darmiany I (Lama). Materials used in the building include stone, brick, clay, gypsum, lime and mortar (Sarouj).

Sources: Payvand News of Iran,

Photo series: Winter in Iran – Snow in Bisutun, Kermanshah Province

Please also check out the amazing story and photos of the Bisutun Inscription – the Iranian Rosetta Stone, that was vandalized by Allied soldiers during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Iran.

Sources: Tasnim News | Photos, The other Iran