More than 6 million Iranians live outside of Iran. About 120.000 people with Iranian background live in Germany, 20.000 of them in Cologne and surrounding areas.
The story of the Iranian Diaspora is about people struggling and suffering from divisiveness and painful nostalgia. But it is also a success story telling of endurance, courage and brilliance. Most emigrants came to the West after the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. People were forced to flee in a great hurry and under chaotic circumstances. For many of them it was a journey with an unknown destination. Assuming it would only be a short journey, many left their belongings behind, not knowing that they would arrive at their new home.
In the course of time, the emigrants have settled in this new homeland. They are well integrated into their new cultural area and benefit from their unique identity. They started families (sometimes with German partners) and made friends. Today, their children are grown up and have a family of their own. In many areas they have adopted habits, ideas and the way of living of their new homeland, but have also preserved their Iranian cultural identity: In December they bring home a Christmas tree and in March they jump over spring fires. They know about Persian etiquette and German directness, Iranian joie de vivre and German discipline.
And yet, many of these people search for something that gives them strength and a sense of security. Some kind of inspiration that has to do with their old homeland, that can be passed on from one generation to the next, and that is different for every human being.
Getting a first impression of the way of life of German-Iranians and of their longings, some people in their surrounding become curious to learn more about this subculture: about habits or emotions, the country`s history or literature, its metaphorical language, Iranian music or the Persian cuisine.
Especially for the 2nd generation immigrants the word “home” is certainly no longer a fixed term. Clear definitions and distinctions are simply not possible anymore. The term “home” is interpreted differently by every single person. Its meaning is changing constantly depending on the person’s needs, way of life and personal circumstances.
The DIWAN society intends to be a place where German-Iranians can pursue those longings which they are not able to fulfill elsewhere. At the DIWAN we would like to create a space where we can further develop our individual concept of the term “home” without setting any limits. It should be a place where we can ask questions that are bothering us and which we want to share with others, where we can get to the heart of these questions or find answers to them. It can also happen that we go home with new questions or ideas.
And what about German fans and admirers of Iranian culture?
- Maybe you once read the poems of Hafiz?
- Maybe you are excited about Iranian mysticism?
- Maybe you know some Iranians in your surrounding – your doctor or your pedicurist?
- Maybe you consider the country and its people extreme or controversial or even threatening? (Don’t be afraid, we are as tame as a Persian cat…!)
- Every single member of the German-Iranian community can give you an insight into a culture which is as diverse and colorful as your German culture. It is vibrant and full of controversies, just like a true “home”.
- Maybe you went to Iran on business and became enthusiastic about the country? (This is said to have happened to quite a few…)
- Maybe you are an immigrant or emigrant yourself with your own migration history?
- Maybe you are able to see a lot of beauty through the veil?
It’s the DIWAN’s goal to provide a place for that diversity. A place where it can be experienced not only by German-Iranians but also by “native” Germans as well as people with a German-French, German-Turkish, German-Ghanaian (etc.) background. It is a place where we discover ourselves and where we are discovered by others, where friendships develop and grow.
And that is why the DIWAN will be changing constantly. It will be full of live and will follow the members’ wishes, questions and longings. One of the DIWAN’s main goals is to provide a forum for a dialogue between cultures. It is a place of mutual respect and common experiences, where different views and concepts of life are tolerated. The DIWAN society shall broaden our horizon in the same way we enrich the DIWAN society with our unique skills and strengths.