Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tehran from the neighbor's eye

here I found a little report from Tehran written by Fatima Bhutto, the pretty 24 years old Pakistani columnist that you see in a picture she has taken in Tehran Metro (or subway).

Fatima's plans for trip to Iran were made amidst worrying headlines that that the unrelentingly belligerent Israeli government had said to be mulling over plans to send laser guided bombs, followed by conventional nuclear warheads into Iran.

Nevertheless, while in Tehran, she finds herself in the middle of a dynamic city, unburdened by the threat of war, and resolved to survive.

There is so much to discover in this megalopolis of 14 million people; it even makes Karachi look quaint and small. The landscape of Iran is said to have been continuously inhabited by a single nation of people longer than any other part of land the world over
Safak Pavey , who heads the United Nations High Commission for Refugee's external relations office, told me that in the early 1990s, after the Gulf War (part one) Iran was home to 4.5 millions refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. "Iran should receive thanks for that; can you imagine a European country giving 4.5 million refugees asylum?"

Fatima speaks of her encounter with Mitra, an Iranian journalist, who informs her about the freedom of birth control in Iran, the availability of sex change operations and the government run rehabilitation centers for the country's large number of heroin addicts, even offering needle exchanges and methadone doses to those in need.

Mitra is an elegant and professional woman, the weekend before Muharram she was wearing red; I wouldn't have pegged her as having Revolutionary sympathies. And she didn't necessarily, but like most Iranians she was willing to balance the difficult and sometimes frustrating changes of the Revolution with its benefits.
It is impossible to essentialize in Iran, impossible to paint things black or white - or red - there are so many facets to life in this country. Those diametric opposites do share the same space in Iran and its people, and perhaps Mitra, are examples of its dynamism.

1 comment:

gary_7vn said...

Good post on an important topic. Lots of obscure but positive info on Iran (the positivity is no doubt the source of the obscurity).

I feel sorry for this girl, she has a lot of weight on her shoulders.