Tehran City Council renames streets in dig at Azerbaijan

Tehran City Council on November 23 adopted a law changing the names of a park and 38 public thoroughfares in the Iranian capital, including renaming some streets after Azerbaijani towns and regions in a way that is bound to antagonize Baku, bne IntelliNews reports.

The municipality is to change the name of Panah Alley to Nardaran. The namesake of the new street is a village on the outskirts of Baku, known for its strictly religious Shiite community and home to The Muslim Unity Movement, an unregistered religious group formed in 2015. The founder of MUM, an Iran-educated Azerbaijani Shiite scholar Taleh Bagirzade, has been a vocal critic of the positions of state religious bodies and has accused the government of authoritarian rule and corruption, the source says.

The City Council will also rename Maryam alley as Shushi, the city recaptured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on 8 November, during the Second Artsakh War. The traditional and official Azerbaijani name for the city is “Shusha,” while the city council chose to go with Shushi, the Armenian and Iranian name for the town.

Other name changes include Yas Alley to Salyan and Ehtesham Alley to Lankaran – two southern districts of Azerbaijan, the latter having a considerable Talysh ethnic minority, who speak a language belonging to the Iranian group. Lankaran is also the city Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani (1931-2007) hails from. 

Salar Seyf, an Iranian journalist said in a tweet that the need for the renamings was “because they belong to the realm of the Iranian civilization” and hoped that “no one will call the city council tomorrow to remove these names.”

Besides city names, some streets were named after Iranian Armenians such as architects Rostom Voskanian (1932-2013) and Vartan Hovanessian (1896-1982).

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