One year ago, a group of activists established a campaign, ‘end monolingualism’’ in order to raise awareness about the ongoing discrimination faced by non Persian speakers in Iran and introducing multilingual education systems in the world. And calling for and end to monolingual education system in Iranian schools.
Iran is of the most linguistically diverse country in the Middle East, where almost half of the 84 million population are not native Persian speakers, and despite that the country has only one official language ‘Farsi’. This campaign has been getting more and more popular following an idea and initiative of one of the activists, Sevil Sulymani, who is herself an Azerbaijani Turk .
The idea was simple but creative, use the hashtag Farsi and I ( منو فارسی- manofarsi ) and talk about your experiences as a non-farsi speaker and the agony and distress you suffered for not speaking it properly during early school years and throughout your life.
In a short period of time, hundreds of thousands of non- Persian people took to twitter to share their stories. But what does this hashtag is trying to achieve? Sevil Soleymani answered this question in an interview : “We want an end to monolingualism and reach the acceptance of ethnic, linguistic, religious and gender diversity,” adding “Iran is a country of differences, and a specific language, religion and gender should not be imposed on everyone.”
Mohsen Rassouli, another member of the End Monolingualism campaign stated in the same interview with Iranwire that he considers ‘the main purpose of this campaign and the hashtag “Monofarsi” to be the raising of awareness about discrimination against non-Persian people and to document their narratives and experiences of suffering in relation to the Persian language. To talk about life in a monolingual education system while being in a multilingual society. In the face of these narratives, many deny discrimination against non-Persian peoples. That is why we wanted to document the experiences of discrimination.’ Rassouli also believes that Iran can not have democracy with a monolingual education system and for a brighter future it is something that should be accepted considering the diverse nature of this country.
21st of this month, marked the the international mother language day and a petition was launched on Daadkhast petitioning platform calling for the end of monolingualism education in Iranian schools. The petition is titled ‘’ A Multilingual Education System Is an Urgent Necessity’’ where the author of the petition refers to the fact that multilingual education is an opportunity and a necessity, not a threat.
The following short video explains the hashtag and the responses the campaign received :