Exclusive - Iranian Attaché on cultural exchange with Algeria: "Both sisterly countries pay heed to expansion of ties"
The Iranian Cultural Attaché in Algeria highlights the struggle that constitutes an inspiration for freedom-loving people worldwide in their struggle for liberation and emancipation from colonialism and apartheid.
His Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Sayyed Jalal Miraghaee, gave an interview to Al Mayadeen on Algerian-Iranian cooperation.
- First of all, welcome to this interview. It is a pure pleasure meeting you again.
Thank you. It’s really a great honor to be with you today. I’ve been in Algeria for three years, and I am really honored to be the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to your country.
- Your Excellency, the Iranian Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran, recently, the Iranian short film “Cannibal” directed by Iranian director Ramin Samani won jointly with “Tuk-Tuk” by Egyptian Mohamed Kheidr the “Best Short Film” award and the "Best Actor Award" at the closing ceremony of the Imedghassen International Film Festival, organized in the province of Batna. Is this the first participation of an Iranian film at Algerian festivals?
That’s true. “Cannibal” won the “Best Short Film” award at the closing ceremony of the Imedghassen International Film Festival. The two films also snatched the "Best Actor Award." This is neither the first participation nor the first distinction. Earlier in 2020, the short film entitled “The Cow”, directed by Rasool Haghjoo, was crowned with the “Golden Gate” award.
- What about cultural cooperation between both countries?
Cultural cooperation between our two countries is entering the phase of effective realization of joint projects, as attested by the Iranian participation in the production of Algerian films, including Ahmed Bey and Ibn Badis, as well as the project of rehabilitation of old movie theaters in Algeria.
Algeria and Iran have qualified their cultural cooperation as good, calling for expanding it to include other fields. In March 2017, Algeria and Iran were linked by a cooperation agreement to promote joint bilateral film production.
Besides, different Algerian cultural exhibitions are held in Iran. On the other hand, several major Iranian cultural and art fairs are frequently organized by Iran’s Embassy in Algeria. Iran was an honorary guest in the Algerian ceremony to announce Constantine as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World.
In addition, the Iranian Embassy frequently organizes cultural competitions. It recently organized two competitions during Ramadan 2021 and 2022. Another competition on Islamic unity and its pioneers in the Islamic world has been organized in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him).
- Language is considered a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage, as well as a gate to the national culture. What did you do to promote the Persian language in Algeria?
Persian and Arabic have had peaceful coexistence since Islam entered Iran in AD 651 (30 AH). The intermixture of the Iranian and Islamic cultures has led to the emergence of colossal Iranian figures in the country’s history, including Hafez, Saadi, Nasir Khosrow, Mulla Sadra, and Farabi. They have written scientific documents in Persian a long time ago, which makes it more important to learn Persian. As you said, learning Persian will help others to get acquainted with the Iranian culture, as well as the scientific achievements of the Iranian scientists.
The Persian language was taught at the University of Algiers by Professor Javad Dehqanian. Then, classes were suspended. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Iranian Embassy launched evening courses.
Regarding the translation, the works of the Algerian thinker Malek Bennabi and Algerian novelists were translated into Persian.
The Iranian researcher, Dr. Muhammad Ali Azar Shab, published books and research papers on Algeria, including the book entitled “Algeria in Contemporary Persian Poetry. Algeria presented a translation of Diwan of Mawlana Jalāl al-Dīn al-Rūmī "The Mathnawi".
In addition, researchers and PhD professors from both countries frequently participate in conferences and seminars in both countries. As for publications, both countries’ peer-reviewed international journals invite all researchers to publish their scientific articles.
- What about all-around cooperation?
In fact, Iran and Algeria are paying attention to developing all-around cooperation given their common denominators. Both countries are revolutionary. The revolution in Algeria has been an inspirational force not only in the region, but also in the history of the struggle against colonization in the 1950s and 1960s, and the people of Algeria, like the Iranian people, took part in a long struggle to gain their independence from France in 1962 with a million and a half martyrs. Both countries adhere to principles of independence and fighting against oppression, colonialism, and injustice. They are also forerunners in tackling terrorism and extremism, calling for exerting more efforts so as to nip these scourges in the bud.
Politically, we have always maintained excellent relations with our Algerian partners at a very high level. Algeria and Iran note a convergence of positions on many topical issues, such as the Palestinian cause, the need for a political solution to the ongoing situation in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, as well as the issue of stabilizing the oil market. It is noteworthy that Algeria opposed the Arab League members giving the Syrian seat in the League to the Syrian opposition. It resisted taking any kind of military action in Syria, and as for Hezbollah and Hamas, Algeria objected to place them on the "terrorist group list."
On this occasion, I seize the opportunity to praise the tireless efforts exerted by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, especially in the diplomatic arena, to resolve crises with a view to ending the suffering of repressed peoples. This active role enabled Algeria to be effective at the regional and international levels. Algerian diplomacy took a qualitative leap on all levels, as the two parties (Iranian and Algerian ones) expressed determination to further strengthen them in all spheres. I would like, on this occasion, to hail the victory of the Algerian diplomacy following the suspension of the observer status granted to the Zionist entity at the African Union (AU).
The ties of friendship between Algeria and the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on mutual respect and trust, convergence of views, common will to ensure the prosperity of the two peoples, and joint action for the establishment of a just world order within the framework of respect for the sovereignty of States and the dignity of peoples. Algeria is one of the countries that have independent positions close to those of Iran on many issues, including in terms of its political literature. We all know that Algeria, through its foreign policy, strives to uphold respect for the principle of the sovereignty and dignity of peoples, non-interference in states’ internal affairs, accompany brothers and friends in the process of dialogue and reconciliation, put an end to hotbeds of tension, resolve conflicts if any, establish peace and defend just causes worldwide, including the just Palestinian cause, which is a common denominator between us.
Iran, on the other hand, always supports regional and international peace and stability and believes that all countries should be provided with security without any discrimination and through collaboration and multilateralism on the international scene.
I recall here the noble fraternal feelings that both Presidents owe to each other as expressed in their cables. Generally speaking, Iran and Algeria enjoy constructive relations with bilateral cooperation further increasing. Iranian President Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi considered no limit to all-out cooperation with Algeria. Iran and Algeria hold regular talks on bilateral, regional, and international issues. Their brotherly relations are deeply rooted and go back to the 1960s. Soon after Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, Iran was among the first countries to recognize it as an independent nation, opening the Iranian Embassy in the autumn of 1964 in Algiers.
Following the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, bilateral ties between the two nations further developed, culminating in the adoption of similar stances on an array of international issues, particularly the problems faced by the World of Islam.
An accord was inked between Iran and the USA due to the mediation of Algeria during the US Embassy takeover in Tehran. However, both counties’ relations experienced some ups and downs. Yet, in 2000, Tehran and Algiers resumed diplomatic relations, and since then, these relations keep flourishing.
Since the very beginning of the nuclear talks and even before the conclusion of the JCPOA, Algeria constantly and explicitly defended Iran’s rights in international bodies. Last February, the Algeria-Iran parliamentary friendship group was set up in Algiers.
- Are Algerians interested in discovering Iran? And what about Iranians?
Algerians know Iran through the media, which, unfortunately, for a long time, gave a truncated image of reality. I refer here to the statement of the former Algerian Ambassador to Iran, Abdekmoun'aam Ahriz. He said, “When I arrived in Tehran, I was accompanied by my daughter and we discovered another Iran, a country with a very long history, a modern country which has made great progress despite the embargo. Iran has great capabilities and is at the forefront of development in the region. Women's access to higher education is high. More and more Algerians come to visit Iran."
As for Iranians, we have been for a long time inspired by the Algerian glorious war of liberation. This struggle is an inspiration for freedom-loving people worldwide in their struggle for liberation and emancipation from colonialism and apartheid. Recently, Iran honored the Algerien hero Djamila Boupacha for her resistance against French colonialism. During French colonialism, the Iranian thinker, revolutionary, and sociologist Ali Shariati advocated the Algerian cause and collaborated with the FLN (the National Liberation Front Party (FLN), the main Algerian revolutionary body that directed the war for independence against France). For their part, the Iranian clerics called upon the Iranians to support the Algerians in all possible means, and considerable financial aid was collected and delivered to them through intermediaries.
Following the recovery of national sovereignty, Iranian scholars held celebrations in the mosques of the Republic. The movie "The Battle of Algiers" was translated into Persian and screened many times on Iranian TV channels. Many Iranian poets also presented poems in Persian about the glorious Algerian revolution, such as; Abdol-Ali Adib Brumand, Khosro Farshid Vard, Ali Mahmoudi, Mohammad Jafar Iranpour, and Jafar Pour Tuyserkani.
Following his return from Paris, Ayatollah Khomeini delivered a speech, calling upon Muslims to unite and follow in the Algerian revolution’s footsteps. According to him, the Algerian revolution represented both the lesser jihad against colonialism and the greater jihad against backwardness (inner struggle against sinful behavior).
Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, prominent Algerian leaders, including the late thinkers Naît Belkacem and Ahmed Hamani, were warmly received by Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iranian television broadcast their meeting where they were sitting on the ground in the residence of the leader of the Iranian Revolution.
- Your Excellency, any last word?
Iran and Algeria have always stood by each other in hard times. Today, the time is ripe for accelerating the development of ties. Tehran and Algiers are more than ever firmly determined to deepen and develop ties and cooperation to the best interest of the two brotherly peoples. Welcoming the fact that Algeria and Iran have inked over 70 agreements, covering different spheres of life, I call upon both sides to further intensify all-out cooperation and increase the volume of joint investments in the two countries. Socially, we, as Iranians, have continually kept a precious memory of Algeria and its glorious revolution. Young Iranian revolutionaries, as well as those of other countries, commemorate the resistance and struggle of the Algerian nation and consider it one of the symbols of resistance.
- Your Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, thank you very much, indeed, for your time and my thanks are also due to our readers.
You are most welcome. Looking forward to having more interviews with you.