We went yesterday with good friends to the Charshanbe Suri, the last Wednesday night before Nowruz (Persian new year). It was organized by the Iranian community in Munich, mainly students and expat families, who all met with some firework, bone fires to jump over and various drinks (hail to you, Hafiz and your poems praising the red wine). I even found some usage of left over bishops-wine from Christmas time, which after heating up to 60 degrees could warm our bones and souls.
It was a great night, with all of you, Hamid, Manja, and Ninelia and your passion and humor.
Almost at th end of the party, when most of the fires were burned down and the wine and beer and champaign was emptied, suddenly a fight started. For me with virtually zero knowledge of Persian language (except “Ma merim be Madraseh, ba Elephantenshuhe”) it was unclear what happened. But obviously, two groups of young guys were punching each others faces, some went to the ground, some others tried to moderate, but everything happened so quickly and sort of chaotic that I did not really knew what to do. Only later on I asked my friend why the evening had to finish in such physical violence. And this is what they explained to me: although the invitation was circulated only among friends within a Persian network, some must have spread the words also to the public where it was read by Khurdish and Afghani asylum seekers, who since last year live under depressing circumstances in refugee camps throughout Munich. For them, Nowruz is an equally important feast as it is for the Persians. So you would think that in terms of culture, language and religion they should all be very close to each other, at least much more than to an outsider like me, who gives a damn on religion and – even worth – not sees a reason to only do kissing, if he meets any of their girls alone.
But the deeper laying reason for the clash of the Iranian sub-cultures (“sub” in terms of ethnic sub-groups of the large Iranian empire) was simply the socio-economic differences between them. Here you had the established middle-class Persian families, proude to be self-made business-man or part of the cultural elite, and there you had the underdogs, just arrived after a 5 thousand mile odyssee through the mud and coldness of south-east Europe, and now facing a dim future that can’t be much better than their current life in the dormitories of the refugee camps.
The clashes that we see are not cultural clashes, but are only projections of the conflicts between social classes in the society. I think Marx was the one who discovered this almost 200 years ago.