Bandar Abbas (Hormozgan) – A traditional majority Sunni city
June 12, 2015 Comments Off on Bandar Abbas (Hormozgan) – A traditional majority Sunni city
In previous posts and articles we have shown that not all Sunni Iranians are of non-Persian (like Baloch, Kurdish etc.) ethnic backround. In fact vast landscapes of Iran are still inhabited by ethnic Persians, including unsuspected areas such as the outskirts of Mashad and and in general many towns in the Khorassan province of Iran (where Khorrassani Persian Sunnis represent a significant minority) and of course the southern provinces of Iran such as the Fars province (most towns south of Shiraz in the Fars province are majority Persian and Sunni) and the Bushehr (Abu Shahr) and Hormozgan province. The people in the southern part of the Fars province speak an ancient Persian dialect called Achomi.
The southern part of the Fars province (and traditionally even large parts of the Hormozgan province) are known as Larestan (not to be confused with Loristan which is a Shia area in south-west Iran). Most Larestanis refer to themselves as either Achomi or Khodmooni ( term literallymeaning “part of ourselves”/ “of our own” but figuratively used to refer to people from Gerash, Evaz, Khonj, Arad, Fedagh, Pishwar and other neighboring cities that share a common language known as “Achomi”).
One of the largest, in fact the largest Sunni city of south Iran is Bandar Abbas. Bandar Abbas has always been a port, and as such its various names have all addressed this function. The most common name over time (Gameroon) has traditionally been said to derive from Persian gümrük, customhouse (from Late Greek kommerkion, from Latin commercium, “commerce”), but is now speculated to be from Persian kamrūn, shrimp (which in Portuguese is camarão, similar to the former Portuguese name. During Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire, Bandar Abbas was known under the name of Hormirzad.
Bandar Abbas was conquered by the Portuguese in 1514, and was an important location to protect their commerce in the Persian Gulf and India. They named the city Comorão, due to the presence of lobsters and crabs on its shores. In 1614, Comorão was taken by ‘Abbās the Safavid from the Portuguese and renamed Bandar-e ‘Abbās (“Port of ‘Abbās”). Backed by the English navy, ‘Abbās developed the city (known to the English-speaking world as Gombraun) into a major port. From 1740 onward, local Arab tribes who immigrated to Persia controlled the town under Persian rule until mid 1800s when their influence declined. Many Arabs still remained and live in Bandar ‘Abbas and many Bandari Persians (coastal Persians) have mixed with them, hence many Arab customs (including Arab traditional clothes – Dishdasha and Yemeni Izars -, headgears etc. Women are often seen wearing the exact same cloth as women in the Emirates and Bahrain etc.) are very common among Bandaris (many who are of a Persian, Arabic and even African backround).
A few decades ago, the majority of its population were Sunni, however Reza Shah and his son (Mohammad Reza) both propagated a generally Anti-Islamic narrative of Persian nationalism, they both practiced the policy of migration and displacement of populations against the Arab people in the Khuzestan (Ahwaz) province and in Hormozgan where many Arabs still live to this day.
The Persian Sunnis in the south (Achomis/Larestanis/Khodmoonis) although not being forcefully displaced, yet their towns and provinces were actively demographically changed by the Shah regime and the Shia regime who both promoted and still promote the settlement of Shia people from Shiraz, Isfahan, Qom and Tehran and other Persian Shia cities in the southern provinces of Iran, in particular Sunni parts of those provinces such as the city of Bandar Abbas, Bandar Lengeh, Kish and Qeshm. Today Bandar Abbas is still majority Sunni, despite all the efforts of the Iranian regime and thanks to the common high birth rate among Iranian Sunnis in general compared to the low birth rate of Shias.