|‘Isfahan is waiting to welcome Frye’||
TEHRAN -- The people of Isfahan, academics, cultural figures, and nongovernmental organizations are all anxious to see that the late American Orientalist Richard Nelson Frye’s will for burial in the central Iranian city is executed, the Persian service of CHN stated on Saturday in an article entitled “Isfahan is waiting to welcome Frye.”
Frye, who died in Boston on March 27, had expressed his wish in his last will and testament to be buried next to the Zayanderud River in Isfahan beside his American Orientalist compatriots Arthur Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, who have already been buried there.
The request was approved by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in September 2007.
However, groups of certain people and a number of Iranian officials have raised objections to any plan to bury Frye in Isfahan. They gathered at the tomb of Pope, writing “down with USA”, “The U.S. monument must be destroyed” on the walls of the tomb.
In addition, the Iranian MP Ahmad Salek described Frye as a “cultural bandit” in his speech, asking President Hassan Rouhani to not let him be buried in Isfahan. A number Persian media have also called Frye a “CIA agent” and have voiced opposition to the plan to bury the 94-year-old Orientalist in Iran.
However, the CHN article reads, “Years ago, the appreciative people of Isfahan buried Pope next to the Zayanderud River for his efforts to introduce Iran, and now it’s Frye’s turn to be laid to rest beside his teacher.”
The people of Isfahan, cultural figures, university professors and cultural NGOs are ready to hold the funeral service in the city.
“It is not right to have a political outlook on cultural issues,” Mehdi Keyvan, a professor of history at Isfahan University, told CHN.
“Iranologists are usually attacked by right and left wing groups,” he stated.
“The right wing groups consider them as ‘colonialist agents’, and the left wing groups call them ‘imperialist agents’, but both groups make the remarks for political purposes and without knowledge,” he added.
“A study of Fry’s works is best way to get to know him,” another professor of history at Isfahan University, Mahmud Abadi, said.
“He has something new to offer in his books and has opened up new areas in the field of Iranian studies,” he added.
“Allameh Dehkhoda, the most renowned of Iranian lexicographers, called Frye a ‘lover of Iran’ and Frye proudly used this title beside his signature until the end of his life,” an expert on Isfahan studies, Heshmatollah Entekhabi stated.
“He strongly disputed Arabs’ false claim on the Persian Gulf and defended the Iranian identity of the Persian Gulf,” he added.
Shahin Sepanta, a member of the Society of Isfahan Lovers, said that many international cultural figures including Pope, Ackerman, Jacob Rousseau and Ernst Hoeltzer are buried in Isfahan.
“This fact could boost cultural relations among nations… The small group that attacked the tomb of Pope and his wife do not represent all Iranian people and Isfahan’s citizens,” he added.
The director of Iran’s Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, Kazem Musavi Bojnurid, asked President Rouhani last week to transfer Frye’s body, which is currently in a mortuary in Boston, to Iran and to devolve responsibility for holding a funeral for the scholar to the center.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif asked the presidential office chairman, Mohammad Nahavandian, on Sunday to inform the Foreign Ministry of the decision made about the request.
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