It was my thesis advisor, good friend and intellectual hero Walter Posch who brought my attention to the complicated situation faced by the Iranian Sunnis for the first time in 2018 as I had the pleasure to work with – and learn from – him. Hereby I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Walter Posch for his always constructive contributions, support, interesting discussions and encouragement, which sincerely aided in maintaining this student’s motivation all through this work. His care over the years has shown me what it means to be a scholar.
A major thanks also to my two teachers at my alma mater for their efforts and generous support over the two years of my study at the university and for all their input. First, Irene Etzersdorfer, who sadly passed away in 2022 and did not get to see this book. She will be fondly remembered by her students. She not only expanded my knowledge in political science and international relations but also – and often through tough questions – pushed me to further develop intellectual stringency and analytical skills which all contributed to making this work possible. Second, I thank Johannes Maerk, who always responded to my requests whenever I needed. For me, it is a pleasure that I can continue to work with and learn from him.
Heartfelt appreciation goes to Mirjam Künkler, who motivated me to complete this book. She graciously took an interest in this project. Her sharp comments turned my thesis into an actual book and encouraged me to think beyond this project. I am also grateful for the opportunity that she provided for me to upload the sound material (speeches) from the Iranian Sunni communities which I had collected for this work for permanent archival on the Iran Data Portal. Special thanks also go to Mehrzad Boroujerdi and Arash Pourebrahimi for the kind and comprehensive support during the contributions process. I hope this, and further materials, will contribute to more research on issues related to the Iranian Sunnis and minorities in Iran in general.
Then I would like to thank Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, who included me in his always exciting, interesting and fruitful Liechtenstein Colloquium convened by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. These events were some of the best opportunities I had for intellectual exchange and for learning from the premier experts and scholars in this field.
I’m especially grateful to Bert Fragner, who sadly passed away in 2021, for many helpful discussions and for sharing his wide and valuable knowledge and experience in this field of work. Since I first heard about Professor Fragner in my teens, it had been my dream to come to Austria and become a student of his, and it is amusing that in fact, Walter Posch was a student of Fragner’s and consequently this dream came true indirectly and through long discussions with him. It was Bert Fragner who rightly motivated me to take a closer look at the Iranian Sunnis in Khorasan, which gave me and this book many new interesting themes.
It should also be mentioned here that this thesis would not have been possible without the kind and helpful support of those people from the Iranian Sunni communities who preferred to be anonymous but nevertheless shared their thoughts and ideas with me, and took the time necessary to answer my questions whenever they arose during my fieldwork and afterward. In particular, I’m grateful for the assistance from a few teachers and students from madrasas in Iranian Baluchistan and Khorasan who supported me in gathering data. On this note, a kind thanks also goes to my brother Sina, who continued my field research while I was in Vienna and thus was my eyes and ears.
Translations are a normal part of life in this field, and in relation to this, I extend my gratitude to Laura Georgelin who assisted with understanding articles in French. Further, I am especially thankful to Elisabeth Wieslander for both advising me and checking on the English language of my thesis as well as on the content and the analytical approach. Through her support, my analytical skills improved significantly.
Regarding professional proofreading, it was Barry Jenkins from the Language Centre of FH Campus Wien who guided me through this project. In this regard, I’d like to mention Peter Grabner at the FH who passionately encouraged my project and provided financial support for the editing process. Nevertheless, mistakes that readers might find remain of course of the author’s origin.
At Brill, the publisher, I thank Nienke Brienen-Moolenaar for accompanying me through the whole process, and also the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable remarks and suggestions. Brill have published many books which have inspired me, and so I am honored to have received their support to publish with them.
Last but not least, I have amassed huge debts of gratitude to my parents for their extended unconditional love, constant support and motivation in all aspects of life and in particular to continue with my studies. I also especially thank my wife Ursula Fürnkranz, who sacrificed lots of potentially beautiful time while I was occupied with this book.