Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 14, 2012

Kurdish in Iran: A case of restricted and controlled tolerance

Jaffer Sheyholislami,


It has been claimed that the 1979 revolution in Iran transformed the country in many respects. This article aims to examine the extent to which the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has deviated, if at all, from the linguicidal policies of the Pahlavi dynasty towards non-Persian languages in Iran. The article finds, in both the monarchical and IRI regimes, a policy of (a) treating multilingualism as a threat to the country's territorial integrity and national unity, (b) restricting the use of non-Persian languages, and (3) promoting the supremacy of Persian as a venue for unifying the ethnically and linguistically heterogeneous body politic. While the continuity in the language policy of the two regimes is prominent, differences will be noted especially in the changing geolinguistic context of the region where Kurdish has achieved the status of an official language in Iraq (since 2005) and has enjoyed some level of tolerance in the linguicidal Turkish state (since 1991). New communication technologies as well as cross-border social and linguistic networking among the Kurds throughout Kurdistan and the world have changed the language environment but not the official policy of “one-nation=one-language”. Persianization of non-Persian peoples continues to be the building block of the Islamic regime's language policy.

Published Online: 2012-09-14
Published in Print: 2012-09-13

©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston