According to the cultural reporter of rahnam News Agency, the expansion and development of soft diplomacy in the 13th government is pursued with more seriousness than in the past by the relevant officials, and the development of cultural relations as a foundation for the expansion of relations in other sectors is still on the agenda, and according to many experts Soft diplomacy or cultural diplomacy can be the most logical policy in this era when Iran-phobia has spread from the enemies; Is known.
This is while we should not forget that the lands with which Iran has cultural commonalities are the main priority of the authorities in terms of establishing relations and expanding them, and based on the historical documents of our country, Iran has a significant history with the lands of Southeast Asia and reliable documentation for use. Among them, it is soft in strengthening diplomacy, and the land of Siam, or the current country of Thailand, is among the countries that can be considered in this regard.
Recently, the Iranian film week in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, started with the screening of the film at dinner time, which was well received by the audience of this country, hence the interview with Mehdi Zare Beibaib, Iran’s cultural consultant in Thailand We had and asked him about the cultural commonalities between the two countries and of course the opportunities available to expand cultural relations, which we will read below.
* How was the cultural relationship between the two countries formed and how has it continued until today?
To better understand the formation of cultural relations between Iran and the land of Siam; The best solution is to pay attention to the opinion of the people of the mentioned country about Iran, and in this context, there are four very important and worthy points that can be used to plan for the development of soft diplomacy in this region. In this way, the first point in the mentioned context is that since the beginning of the 4th century BC, Iran has been known as a commercial and important country in the prosperity of the economic exchanges of the Silk Road and has always been at the forefront of the traffic of traders and merchants from the East and the West. They were in charge of the middleman in East and West trade.
But the second point is the political position of Iran, as Iran is considered a country with high political stability from a political point of view, and this point has played a significant role in strengthening the position of our country in the clash of different cultures.
This is while, in addition to political and economic relations, the two countries; Iran and the land of Siam in the social and cultural dimensions and promotion of interaction between their people have had plans since the distant past and have welcomed any development of cultural relations between the two nations, but the transfer of the number of tourists between the two countries in recent decades is a factor in the continuation of the process of cultural communication between the two nations. The country is the fourth point, although now the bottom of the scale in sending tourists compared to receiving tourists between two countries is not logical.
The influence of Persian language in the development of cultural relations
* These things that you mentioned from ancient times apparently provided the basis for the introduction of Persian language into the official language of this country, now is this influence and the use of Persian words tangible in the daily conversations of Thais?
Yes; The entry of Persian language into daily conversations of Thai people is tangible. According to the research conducted, following the emergence of political nuclei that emerged after the formation of Islamic civilization, especially after the Turks and Mongols attacked in the 10th to 13th centuries AD, the Arabic language that was common in most of the regions in question gave its place to the Persian language. . In this way, the Persian language became widespread as a mixed dialect and as a pioneer of Islamic civilization in Iran, Anatolia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
As a result, the limits of the Arabic language, which was no longer understandable to ordinary people, remained mostly limited to the prayer and worship of the Muslims of the mentioned areas, including the land of Siam, and in this way, the Persian language gradually became bolder and richer, therefore, the influence of the Persian language should not be He ignored the people of the Indian subcontinent and the Eastern Genoese regions of Asia in converting them to Islam.
Meanwhile, among other cases of Persian language influence in the mentioned regions, we can mention the cultural exchanges of the Middle East, especially Iran, with the Southeast Asian region before Islam, i.e. the Sassanid period, of which prominent examples are clearly evident in the Thai language. This is because there are words in this language that have Persian roots and are still used today. For example, words such as derek klap (like gulab) meaning rose, which are derived from Persian roots. In addition, there is a Persian root of cabbage in the words Kalam poly (cabbage flower) and Kalam derek (cabbage). “Kalam Derek” in Thai language is exactly equivalent to the Persian word “Cauliflower”.
Of course, the interesting point here is that the Thai term for the word “pure” also has the Persian root “pure”. But one of the most important Persian loanwords in the Thai language is the term Farang, which refers to Europeans. A word that is familiar to every tourist who spends a few days in Thailand. The root of this word goes back to the time of wars between Arabs and foreign enemies (farangish). Undoubtedly, the date of the arrival of these Persian words should be sought at a time when a successful group of Persian-speaking merchants lived in Ayutthaya, the capital of Siam, from the 16th century onwards.
But in general, Iranian immigrants played a very important role in 17th century Siam since ancient times. Especially during the time of Shah Narai, who ruled the throne from 1688-1656, Iranians had high-ranking court officials and local officials. The peak of Iranian activity in Thailand was when the Safavid and Siam governments exchanged embassy officials in the second half of the 17th century. Therefore, the frequent use of Persian words in everyday words such as grape and divan shows that the presence of Persian language in the Thai language cannot be denied.
The historical role of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi
* How do you evaluate the role of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi in the introduction of Islam and Shia to the land of Siam?
According to historical documents, Sheikh Ahmed married a lady from Ayutthaya named Chori who was from the royal family and had two sons and a daughter. This family is considered the founder of the great families of Bunnako and Ahmad Cholai, who are still famous in Thailand and have high positions. Although with the re-invasion of Burma to Siam and the attack on cultural centers and the destruction of libraries and the destruction of historical documents and books, there is not much information available to know the details of the life and role of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi in Siam, but by referring to the diaries of the officials of that era, including the family Royal as well as the historical documents available in Muslim religious centers and Buddhist temples, one can understand the high position of Sheikh Ahmed and the extent of his influence in the royal court of Siam.
In this way, considering the position of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi in the Thai court, the relationship between Shia Muslims and Buddhists was based on respect and tolerance. It is interesting to know that until 1945, the royal family delegated only the rule of Sheikh al-Islami to the Shiites who were descendants of Sheikh Ahmed. Therefore, only four of the recent Shaykh al-Islam were Sunni and we (thirteen people) before that were Shia, and they caused fundamental and significant changes, including the influence of Thais on Iranian customs, as well as the establishment of the Shaykh al-Islami institution. Thailand’s Buddhism is considered a special honor and privilege for Muslims and shows the attention of the royal family and the Thai government to them.
Based on the same historical connection with the court and the court’s attention to Sheikh Ahmad Qomi, the ground was ready for the propagation of Islam, and as a result, in 1686, 10 thousand cases of non-Muslim conversion to Islam took place in the city of Tenasrim alone. The interesting thing to note is that at the same time in the capital of Siam, two thousand Shiites participated in the mourning ceremonies of Imam Hassan (a.s.) and Imam Hussein (a.s.) and enjoyed great honor and closeness in front of the king.
* Let’s go past the historical issues and talk about the release of Iranian films and cultural programs in this country. Tell us a little about this cultural week?
According to the 3-month program that the Bangkok municipality organizes every year from November to January, various cultural and artistic programs are implemented in all parts of the city of Bangkok according to the municipality’s capacities. Is. Due to the heat of the weather in other seasons and the heavy rains in the rainy season, there is practically no possibility to set up cultural and artistic programs in the open space for the public to attend; Therefore, the municipality considers these three months as the best weather season in Thailand. conducts these programs.
The implementation of various fashion and clothing exhibition programs, film screenings, and competitions are among the programs that will be held during this period; On the other hand, Bangkok Municipality has also established relations with cultural agencies and foreign embassies in Thailand to develop international relations and diversify its cultural programs. It also implements more diverse programs with their participation, and this year, due to the follow-up of cultural consultation, direct communication was established between Bangkok Municipality and this agency for the first time. In the first joint program with the Bangkok Municipality on the night of November 17, a variety of programs including a movie screening program at Benjakiti Park open-air cinema in Bangkok, the Iranian film “At Dinner Time” with Thai subtitles was screened in this space; This is the first time that an Iranian film is screened at such a level in the open air.
* Why was it chosen as the start of the screening of Iranian films at dinner time?
Regarding why the film was chosen at dinner time to start the screening of Iranian films in Bangkok, we should consider that the news flow in the last few weeks was related to the brutality of the Zionist regime in the Gaza Strip, and public opinion around the world reacted to this issue, so with Taking into account the copyright of the films that the organization had purchased, it was recognized as the best and most up-to-date film among all available films in the current war situation in Gaza.
On the other hand, according to the taste of Thai people who are interested in thriller and action movies, this movie is suitable, but regarding the series, they are very interested in emotional, romantic and mystery series. Other films mostly date back to distant years and very weak films with domestic themes that are not relevant to the foreign audience at all; Therefore, “at dinner time” was a good choice.
* What was the feedback of this movie?
After the release of the film, all the audiences were excited about the content of the film and expressed their satisfaction after seeing it. But due to the very violent scenes and the crimes of ISIS depicted in the film, they wanted these images not to be shown clearly. The thing to think about was that considering the crimes of Gaza and the political news published all over the world, this brutality of the Zionist regime was able to have a high effect among the audience.
* Do you have any other plans for screening Iranian films?
Yes, due to the importance of developing soft diplomacy in different countries, the government in this country also has various programs in this field. This program will be continuous and will be screened during various other programs; According to the agreement, this program is planned to be carried out continuously, especially during the days in the open air, which are the next three months.
* Did we have an agreement with the Thai authorities to continue the screening of Iranian films so that this event will be held regularly?
If we want to talk about the film, it is necessary to remember that there is a regular and continuous schedule of Iranian film screenings in Thailand. According to the contract with the National Film Archive Organization, which is the highest authority for government films, one Iranian film will be screened every month. For example, on Sunday, November 19, according to the agreement, the film “Boys of the Sea” will be screened in the above organization. Our main problem is the non-cooperation of filmmakers or activists in this field, who tie our hands due to copyright issues, otherwise, the capacity to screen and welcome Iranian films here is high.
* We talked about the release of Iranian films in Thailand, has a film from Thailand also been released in Iran?
As far as we know, only one Thai movie has been dubbed and screened in Iran. But about the Thai film festivals, I must say that Iranian filmmakers, mainly short films, have been present in Thai festivals.
* Do you have a plan to hold a cultural week in this country from Iran?
As mentioned before, the Thai side is ready to cooperate in all the art sectors that we have the capacity and possibility to implement. In the coming months, we are also planning to hold a cultural week in honor of the Islamic Republic.
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