Iran's Small Zoroastrian Community Remembers 7th Century Arab Conquest of Persia

June 18, 2007

Author: Staff Writer


Wire Service: AP

CHAK CHAK, Iran (AP) - Dressed in white to symbolize purity, a priest recited from the Zoroastrian holy book at a shrine as members of this ancient pre-Islamic religion marked what they see as one of the most bitter events in Iran's history: the 7th century Arab conquest of Persia. The Arab invasion changed history for Persia, the ancient name for non-Arab Iran: Islam was imposed as the new religion, replacing Zoroastrianism, whose followers were dispersed. Thousands of Zoroastrians _ from Iran's small remaining community and from India, the United States and other countries _ gathered at this mountain shrine this week for five days of ceremonies that ended Monday, commemorating the event. Priest Goshtasb Belivani addressed the gathering, standing at the tall bronze doors of the shrine, built into a cliff-side cave where a heroine of the faith, Nikbanou, is said to have fled from the Arab assault.