A few weeks earlier, on BBC News I heard about the dire fate of a Christian woman in Pakistan. Apparently, she had an argument with a group of Pakistani Muslim women, who reported her to the police. They claimed that the Christian woman had insulted Prophet Mohamed’s name. Whether this is true or not, it is not clear. However, the poor woman is in jail, awaiting execution.
This story reminded me of an event that happened to my deceased brother, when he was fourteen and I nine – when my father had recently passed away. In those days, we were living in a strict Islamic city called, Arak. Although, the people of most large Iranian cities were tolerant and nice, Arak was not among them.
At the time, in Arak, we, Armenians, being Christian, were considered to be spiritually unclean – “najis.” They also called us, “sag Armani,” which its word-by-word translation is, “dog Armenians.” This means they considered us being as unclean as dogs, simply because we were Christian.
One day, Mother sent my brother to the bazaar to do some shopping. Apparently, an Araki, boy, wearing baggy pants, and a filthy shirt, upon setting his eyes on my brother, began shouting, “Hey you, sag Armani.”
My brother must have stared at the tramp while lifting an eyebrow, and telling him to shut up. This comment had probably enraged the boy, who had lied, shouting, “Hey, Muslims, this unclean Armenian boy is insulting our religion.”
My brother said that within seconds, a furious group of young and middle-aged bazaaris stormed forward and encircled him. He said that he could tell from their shouts and angry looks that they were about to punish him severely. Normally, this would mean beating and kicking the guilty person to death.
Then, apparently, as this was happening, a young, dark bearded man from among the crowd recognizing him, yelled above the din of the furious mob, “Leave him alone. He is Tadevos Petrossian’s son. Do not harm him. These people are good Iranians.”
My brother said that upon hearing my father’s name, the mob immediately turned around and dispersed.
Arakis working at the bazaar all knew and respected my father. Imagine what might have happened if that nice man who recognized the innocent Armenian boy, had not been present among the crowd!