About one year ago Iranian authorities ordered security forces to rid the country of ‘western influences’ and ‘immodesty’. Fortunately they soon backed off again. But this time green bloggers in Iran and an Iranian daily newspaper, Etemaad, have reported on their new victims: old trees (via LA Times).
According to these reports, the authorities have ordered the cutting down of dozens of two-centuries-old mulberry trees in the northern Gilan province under the pretext of fighting local superstitions. Some people are placing candles and ribbons under them as part of an ancient ritual. It seems that the Iranian judiciary issued an order to stop this by cutting down the old trees.
Several bloggers shared their sorrow and astonishment of such destruction.
Mohmmad Darvish, a leading environmentalist and blogger, says [fa]:
Iran is a low forest cover and we should protect of our trees. Taking care of our trees has deep roots in our culture and tradition. Our Zoroastrian ancestors asked us to protect our nature. The Prophet Muhammad also said that breaking a tree's branch is like hurting the wings of angels. Then how is it possible that they [authorities] can destroy the oldest trees in Gilan and be proud of it… Is it not better instead of cutting down innocent trees, to fight against the roots of superstition? Do you not think people who ask requests of trees will replace them by rivers, mountains or any other living or non-living beings?
(photo of the old tree above is from Darvish's blog)
Earth Soldier writes [fa]:
Superstition has roots in our life, we created them, and the trees are innocent… Some years ago two men were in conflict regarding of the possession of 100 doves. A judge ordered that all 100 doves should be killed. The innocent birds died, but do you think the conflict of these two men ended?
The blogger adds that the authorities want to cut down 40 trees and most of them are older than 200 years.
Blogger Z8tun says [fa] that the superstition is not only about the trees, and that many people offer jewelry to shrines in order to have their prayers answered. The blogger adds that many poor people offer what they have, to get healing for themselves or their family members. Z8tun says you only could impose your will on poor trees.
According to Ahang Rabbani, trees have been victims in another story too. Ahang writes in Iranian.com :
During the early hours of Saturday, 27 September 2008, the custodians and grounds-keepers of the Baha’i cemetery in Isfahan visited the cemetery (on the road leading to Nain in Yazd Province) and found all the trees cut to pieces. It appears that in Iran, even for trees that are close to Baha’is – even deceased Baha’is – is a crime punishable by death.