American scholar wants to be buried in Iran

American scholar wants to be buried in Iran
September 14th, 2007  

Topic: American scholar wants to be buried in Iran

American scholar wants to be buried in Iran
Leader allows American's burial in Iran

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 48 minutes ago

Iran's hardline president will honor an American scholar's request to be buried in a historic Iranian city when he dies, the state broadcasting company said Thursday.

Richard Nelson Frye, an 87-year-old professor emeritus of Iranian and Central Asian studies at Harvard University, said his desire to be buried in Iran dates to the time of the shah in the 1970s and he had made the request to previous Iranian leaders with no success.

He has yet been informed of the decision by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but he expects to get that when he visits the Iranian mission to the United Nations on Monday.

"It's been a long process and finally they have come through," he told The Associated Press from his home in the central Massachusetts town of Brimfield.

Frye said he first visited central Asia during World War II when he worked for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. His affection for Iran and its people grew during his scholarly pursuits, and he wants to be buried in the city of Isfahan near Arthur Pope, his mentor and predecessor as director of the Asia Institute in Shiraz.

Iran's state broadcasting company said on its Web site that Frye had made his request in a letter addressed directly to Ahmadinejad.

"I ask the Iranian president to allow my burial in the beautiful city of Isfahan to prove the unbreakable link between the honorable Iranian and American nations," Frye was quoted as saying in his letter.

The decision comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. Washington was angered by Tehran's arrest of four Iranian-Americans accused of plotting against the government, while Iran protested the detention of eight Iranians by U.S. forces in Iraq last month.

Washington also accuses Iran of arming Shiite Muslim militants in Iraq and seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies those claims, and blames the U.S. for Iraq's instability.

Iran and the U.S. have not had diplomatic relations since Washington cut its ties with Tehran after Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

But Ahmadinejad provided some rare words of support for the U.S. in his written authorization of Frye's burial request, according to the broadcasting company's Web site.

"Both the Iranian and American nations are seekers of monotheism, justice and the beauty of pure thoughts," the president said. "While hoping for long life for this introducer of Islamic culture to other people in the world, it is necessary to arrange the realization of his wish."

Several American nationals have been buried in Iran in the past, including one who was celebrated as a national hero.

Howard Conklin Baskerville, an American teacher, participated in Iran's 1906 Constitutional Revolution and was shot dead three years later trying to break a siege of the northern city of Tabriz, where he was buried. The city's museum contains a sculpture of Baskerville celebrating him as a martyr.

Famous for its beautiful Islamic architecture, the central Iranian city of Isfahan was the site of the country's capital twice throughout history, most recently under the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century.

It may be some time before Frye returns to the city for the final time. "I feel like I am in good health," he said with a chuckle.

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