ZIABARI: From the Axis of Evil to the Least Popular Country By Kourosh Ziabari A poll recently conducted by the BBC World Service in 27 countries shows that Iran is considered to be the least popular country of the world, followed by North Korea, Pakistan and Israel. Iran which was dubbed a part of the Axis of Evil by the former U.S. President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, is now under the merciless spates of psychological attack by the world’s mainstream media over its controversial nuclear program. To the Western mainstream media, Iran can only be defined in the framework of its contentious nuclear program and a number of stereotypes which seem to be inseparable from the West’s depiction and portrayal of Iran. What we usually encounter while pursuing Iran’s coverage in the Western media is the claim that the Iranian people are religiously extremist, fundamentalist, terrorist, anti-American and intolerant. I’ve personally encountered several cases in which the American people have conflated Iran with Iraq and called Iran an Arab country. Many others have told me that they’re simply unable to locate Iran’s position on the world map and the only thing which they know about this country is that it wants to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe Israel off the world map. It’s true that over the past years, Iran’s position in the international community was downgraded due to some uncompromising anti-Western policies which the government has adopted, and this in turn demonstrates that only those remains loyal to the Western superpowers can enjoy popularity and esteem; however, what the people of the world, specially those who participated in the BBC World Service’s survey have forgotten is that the realities of Iran are far beyond what the media conglomerates, mostly run by affluent and well-off Jews and ardent Zionist, pretend. I’m really sorry that the people of the world and the international community have forgotten the fact that Iran, once called the Greater Persian Empire, is home to one of the world’s ancient and sophisticated civilizations. Don’t you really remember that the Cyrus Cylinder, the world’s first declaration of human right which was inscribed in 539 BC, belongs to the people of Iran? Don’t you remember that Rumi, the immortal mystic and poet who composed one of the most elaborate collections of spiritual verses of the world belongs to Iran? Don’t you remember that Persepolis, the masterpiece of architecture and craftsmanship which was once the ceremonial capital of Persian Empire’s rulers belongs to Iran? Don’t you remember that the incontestable polymath, scientist, astronomer, mathematician and philosopher Hakim Omar Khayyam whose Rubayyiats you certainly know through Edward Fitzgerald’s priceless translation belongs to Iran? Don’t you remember that Iran is the homeland of poetry, mysticism and love? Don’t you remember that the world’s most valuable and pure saffron is cultivated in Iran? Don’t you remember that the Iranian carpet is an unequivocal manifestation of the Persian artistry, creativity and dexterity? There are hundreds of such questions which I, as an ordinary Iranian citizen who loves and adores his country’s civilization and culture would like to ask from you, who are reading my insignificant words. I admit that my government’s treatment and demeanor with the international community over the past years has not been decent and justifiable. At the same time, I assert that the treatment of international community with my country hasn’t been fair and righteous, as well. While Israel possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads, as confirmed by the Federation of American Scientists, nobody has the courage to even question it, let alone investigate it; however, my country is being lethally attacked for pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. I know that there are a small group of extremists within certain layers of Iran’s decision-making circle who impede the way of Iran’s integration with the international community and pursue adventurous policies for the sake of their own interests. At the same time, I assert that there are extremist people within the top layers of Western governments who favor confrontation with an independent nation such as Iran. Unquestionably, there are people who distort the real image of Iran with their uncalculated and baseless statements and behaviors; however, what you should never forget is that the Iranian nation, regardless of who rules them, is a respectable and reputed nation. You cannot deny the contributions of Iranians to sciences, arts and society throughout the history. Governments come and go; rulers get elected and then end disappear. What remains on the ground is truth and honesty, the features which the Iranian people have always been renowned for. I’m not here to change your ideas and opinions with regards to Iran, because if it’s your ideology that Iran is a rogue state and an incompatible and uncompromising role-player in the international community, I cannot influence you. I’m simply here to ask you to contemplate and think for a few moments. Are the Iranian people really deserved to be called the most unpopular nation of the world? Statistics show that there are roughly 200,000 Iranians living in the United States. You have surely encountered some of them and have had relations with them. Can you neglect and overlook the services which they have done to the American public? Is it really just and fair to consider Iranian people terrorists? I don’t know the answer, but you, the people of conscience, certainly have responses to the questions which I’ve posed. Be fair and judge; who are the Iranian people? A part of the Axis of Evil?