Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Perspective: Iraq returns to its Persian heritage

NAJAF, IRAQ — Persian script laces and flows across the walls of Najaf's seminaries.

Shiite Muslim religious scholars in the ancient city's turquoise-tiled edifices bury their noses in Koranic texts illustrated with Persian calligraphy, in scenes that evoke Mesopotamia's rich history.

For centuries, Najaf has been a key shrine city and center of worship for much of Iraq's people. But for centuries, Iraq's Ottoman and Arab rulers rarely considered Najaf part of their own history. It was always considered a troublesome outpost of the enemy: Iran.

They were right, for the most part. Historically and culturally, Najaf has long been under Persia's sway.

But so has much of Iraq.

Read the rest at the LA Times