What India can teach Iran about freedom and tolerance
seattletimes / Alyssa Gabbay

AS Iran finds itself increasingly sanctioned and condemned by human rights groups, it should look to a forgotten source for an answer to its woes: India.

More than 400 years ago, the ruler of India implored the king of Iran to show tolerance and love to people of all religions, since God's mercy extends to every creed.

Today, that letter to Shah Abbas seems as relevant as it did in 1594. Then as now, an Iranian Shi'i regime imposes its ideals on an often-unhappy populace. Religious and ethnic minorities, intellectuals and artists suffer; many leave.

Meanwhile India, as in the Mughal era, is far from a perfect society. But in its struggles to balance a diverse population and the conflicting demands of tradition and modernity, it has escaped many of the difficulties entangling Iran.

Once again, India has something to teach Iran, if Iran is willing to listen.

Why should it? Despite differences, these ancient friends and neighbors share a long history of tolerant thought. But India has implemented these ideals to a greater extent than has Iran.

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