I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and chat with Mansur Nurdel at this year’s Association for Baha’i Studies conference. Mansur, along with Jeanette Moninger, have penned his memoir called One More Mountain. It shares an intimate glimpse into what life in Iran was and is like for those who have no power, no voice, and no freedoms.
Mansur kindly agreed to share with us what his book is about and why it is timely.
Hi Mansur. Can you tell us a little about the book?
One More Mountain is a thought provoking memoir that provides a personal and intimate perspective on the persecutions faced by the Baha’i community in Iran. Through the lens of my own experiences and journey, the memoir unveils the challenges, fears, and triumphs of individuals who are members of the Baha’i Faith during a turbulent period in Iran’s history especially in the past forty years.
The story captures the resilience and courage of Baha’is as they navigate the complex and often dangerous landscape of discrimination, harassment, and injustice. My memoir sheds light on the emotional toll that persecution takes on families, friendships, and personal well-being, as well as the unwavering determination to seek a brighter future.
In One More Mountain, readers gain insight into the Baha’i community’s unwavering commitment to their beliefs and their courageous efforts to overcome adversity. By raising my voice, I contribute to a broader conversation about human rights, religious tolerance, and the need for change in regions affected by discrimination. My memoir stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to shed light on social injustices and to inspire positive change on a global scale.
The book also vividly recounts my harrowing escape from Iran, an arduous journey that unfolded on foot across treacherous mountain landscapes during the heart of winter. The memoir delves into the gripping narrative of 13 days of walking through the rugged terrains, battling the elements, and facing countless obstacles in pursuit of freedom and safety. Through this firsthand account, readers gain insight into the physical and emotional challenges of this extraordinary trek, witnessing the indomitable human spirit and the unwavering determination that propelled us forward despite the harshest conditions. This gripping tale is a testament to the resilience of the human will and the enduring quest for a better life, ultimately revealing the incredible lengths one can go to achieve freedom and a new beginning.
Can you tell us why it was important for you personally to embark on writing this book?
The driving force behind penning One More Mountain was my unwavering desire to let the world know about the alarming plight of Baha’is in Iran. Through my narrative, I aim to draw global attention to the grave human rights violations and religious persecution faced by this community. By sharing my personal story, I hope to bridge understanding, foster empathy, and inspire advocacy for the Baha’i community’s struggle for equality and religious freedom.
In crafting One More Mountain, my intentions extended beyond shedding light on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran. My memoir also serves as a powerful platform to raise awareness about the profound contributions that immigrants bring to American society, as well as to other nations around the world.
What were some of the challenges in writing this book?
There were multiple challenges in writing this book, starting with remembering my childhood stories, especially since my journal was destroyed. The second one was balancing the need to tell facts/ truth yet protect the loved ones who are still living in Iran.
Lastly, how long it takes to publish a book and how complicated is to arrive to the point of publication and finally publish it.
What do you hope readers gain after reading your book?
By sharing my personal journey of fleeing Iran and seeking refuge in America, I aim to showcase the resilience, talents, and diversity that immigrants infuse into the fabric of their host countries. Through my story, I demonstrate the capacity of immigrants to enrich cultures, economies, and communities, while also embodying the spirit of determination and hope that fuels the pursuit of a better life.
My memoir is a testament to the shared human experience of leaving behind one’s homeland in pursuit of new opportunities, often in the face of adversity. It highlights the remarkable strength and adaptability immigrants possess as they overcome challenges, embrace change, and contribute to the societies that open their doors.
I am hoping people do not stereotype and avoid coming to an immediate judgment when hearing someone with an accent, and instead take the opportunity to learn about them. There may be a beautiful and life-changing story behind that accent.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Through sharing my journey, I hope to ignite a spark of inspiration, encouraging others within the Baha’i community to embark on their own journeys of recollection. By capturing our individual stories and insights, we contribute to the rich fabric of Baha’i history, preserving the moments that have shaped our faith and guided our lives. As Baha’is, we are interconnected by a shared commitment to spiritual growth and unity, and by recording our memories, we cultivate a sense of continuity and kinship that spans generations.
Through the pages of my memoir, I hope to inspire readers across the globe to take action and advocate for the rights and safety of the Baha’is in Iran. It is my fervent hope that this personal account will encourage individuals from all walks of life to engage with their respective politicians to demand protection and equality for the Baha’i community of Iran, we can create a unified voice that challenges oppression and promotes human rights on a broader scale.
Thank you so very much, Mansur, for taking the time to share this with us, and congratulations again on writing and sharing your book.
Naysan is passionate about using the arts and media to explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Back in 2011, Naysan started up the Baha’i Blog project, channeling his experiences in both media and technology companies to help create a hub for Baha’i-inspired content online.