In an upcoming reading sponsored by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Longmont Baha'i community on Feb. 24, Mansur Nurdel, an optometrist with offices throughout the Denver Metro Area, will share his remarkable life story and the events chronicled in his inspirational book, “One More Mountain: Fleeing Iran for America.”
A follower of the Baha’i Faith, Nurdel’s family faced religious persecution in Iran, enduring decades of human rights violations, including arrests, detentions, torture and executions without cause. Like millions of other Iranians, he sought refuge in Turkey in the late 80s amid the religious and political turmoil triggered by the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Nurdel’s narrative unfolds as a testament to determination, perseverance and unwavering faith in the face of adversity. “One More Mountain” paints a striking picture of life under Islamic rule in Iran, providing readers with a unique perspective on the challenges faced by those stripped of power, voice and freedoms.
“I actually had planned to write the book since 2007, but didn’t have time to write it until recently in 2019,” Nurdel revealed. “I want my readers to understand how human rights are violated in Iran, how a minority group in Iran has no voice whatsoever.”
His bustling business operations, coupled with the demands of daily life, delayed the realization of this profound storytelling venture. Despite initial attempts to secure a major publishing deal, his writing route led to self-publishing after submissions to major publishers, including Penguin Random House, yielded positive reviews but no commitments.
Nurdel’s story is not just a solitary trek, but a tapestry woven with strong threads of support from unexpected corners. In his hometown of Hervan, a family friend nicknamed Wolf who was one of the toughest guys around and a formidable ally, stood up for Nurdel’s family. He displayed unwavering courage in the face of adversity when tensions were at an all-time high and violence was pushing him out of his home.
Similarly, a Muslim boy in his class changed the subject when a teacher argued about Nurdel’s Baha’i Faith, demonstrating the power of compassion when it could have easily been ignored.
“I wouldn’t have been alive, and I wouldn’t have been talking to you if Wolf hadn’t stood up for us,” Nurdel said, reflecting on the impact of those who stood up for him, emphasizing the profound impact of a small act. “How one kind act changes someone else’s life forever. That’s huge. That’s big.”
At the age of 25, Nurdel fled Iran with two friends, Siamak and Tofigh, embarking on a perilous journey across the forbidding Zagros Mountains in the peak of winter and during an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq with active hostilities.
Nurdel sought asylum in America, a foreign land where he had minimal command of the English language, was far away from his friends and family and possessed only a basic understanding of the country, primarily shaped by what he gleaned from television. Settling in Milwaukee, he swiftly developed a passionate allegiance as a diehard cheesehead Packers fan, all the while saving money and pursuing a college degree.
Irony weaved its way into Nurdel’s narrative as he found himself working in the same chocolate factory as Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee — his arrest prevented Nurdel from working one day as the police examined Dahmer’s work locker. This unforeseen shock underscores the unpredictability of life even after escaping one set of threats in Iran.
“One More Mountain” offers readers a never-before-seen look into the challenges faced by those who still live in Iran with no power, no voice and no freedoms. The book serves as powerful proof of the resilience of the human spirit and the pursuit of a better life.
Whilst fleeing Iran, a prayer that became his constant companion and source of strength is “The Remover of Difficulties,” a powerful invocation from The Báb, founder of the Baha’i Faith. This prayer, rich in its simplicity, encapsulates Nurdel’s reliance on divine strength and the acknowledgment that challenges can be overcome through a higher power.
“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!”
Regardless of the government in power, Nurdel’s hope is for all Iranians to experience the same level of freedom and rights that he cherishes in his life in the United States. His message echoes the universal aspiration for human dignity and the ability to live authentically. Nurdel’s vision transcends political affiliations, focusing on the fundamental right of every individual to freely express themselves and practice their beliefs without fear of persecution.
“I’m not looking for political change or a change of regime. I want everyone to have the same rights and freedom that you and I enjoy tremendously here,” Nurdel said.
Nurdel’s pursuit extends far beyond local libraries in the Denver area. He has taken “One More Mountain” on an international tour. His book has found resonance in the hearts of readers across the globe. He has conducted readings in Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada, as well as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.
The international tour holds a special significance as Nudel visited the very countries where his friends, Siamak and Tofigh, who crossed the Zagros Mountains with him, chose to build new lives. Siamak immigrated to Australia, while Tofigh found a new home in Canada.
This event is not sponsored or hosted by the Longmont Library, it is only being held at the facility.