I’m in the bus towards Tehran, and I will be leaving Iran soon. After my short stay overhere, I would like to share some things I’ve seen and read about Iran:
– Iranians like jews, they even *guarantee* seats in the parlement specifically for jews. Admittedly, jews don’t have the same rights as Muslims. Iranians don’t agree with the current situation in Israel.
– Iranians like Americans. The Americans I’ve met in Iran were extremy positive about their reception (even at the border). American products are cherished by Iranians. Both are a miracle as the USA overthrew the legally elected government in Iran in 1954 (headed by the Times man-of-the-year Mossadegh), categorised Iran in the ‘axis of evil’ when it had its most pro-western and peace loving government in decades, the Iran-contra affair, shot down of the civilian IranAir flight 655 (290 people on board) by the US navy most advanced warship. Surprisingly, you’ll find amazing similarities between the ideas of American Christians evangelicals (and tea party movement) and the current situation in Iran. – Iran is not agressive: it hasn’t attacked anoyher country for centuries and its miliyary budget is only 2,7% of GDP. As an indication, the USA spends every two weeks in Iraq alone what Iran spends in a year. This despite that Iran has been occuppied by Russians, British and was under attack of Iraq and had operations on its soil by the USA. Despite what many western people might think, Iran despises thd Taliban about as much as the USA.
– Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons (yet). This is an exception in the region as the main countries that operate in there (India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia and USA) all have these weapons. Moreover, Iran is an importer of fossil fuels (they lack refinery capacity for their oil), therefore nuclear energy really is important to them.
– Iran isn’t anti-west, it just doesn’t want to turn into a country where mindless pursuit of money, status and sex are its citizens main occupations.
Isn’t there anything negative in Iran? Of course there is. – The oppression of women and non-muslims is non-worthy for such a great nation (the fact that the situation in neighbouring countries is far worse isn’t an excuse).
– Economic policy is dramatic, leading to poverty in what could be one of the richest countries in the world. Again, income disparity isn’t something that is confined to Iran, but the situation is needlessly bad.
– Support for movements outide its country need to stop (it wouldn’t want other countries do the same to Iran).
– The influence of the clergy should be limited to theological affairs. Freedom of speech and elections are sacred too.
– Despite what many people from the west think, the green movement didn’t want to make the country secular, nor did it want to stop Iran’s nuclear efforts. Also, the support from the west for the green movement did far more harm than good (it was inmediately branded as a foreign supported coup, with which the Iranians have very bad experiences).
-And many more…
The world seems to misunderstand Iran and Iran’s ruling class doesn’t understand its people. After reading a couple of books and spending a couple of weeks in Iran, I can’t pretend to understand it either. What I do know is that Iranians are in general genuinely nice people. They’re very hurt by their negative image abroad (it’s typically the 2nd question they ask you). In my opinion it’s a country that will slowly change for the better and then emerge as the leading country in its region and maybe this will work as a ‘religious democracy’. ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there’ as they call it over here. And I’ll miss Iran.