Thursday, October 04, 2007

"The World Does Not Understand Us" -- Shahryar Eivazzadeh

..."It is the paradox of Tehran today -- a city and people surprisingly cosmopolitan and far different from Western stereotypes, paired with an ultraconservative government working to consolidate its power and at sharp odds with the West.

Yet, whether modern or strictly traditional, many Iranians share one thing: A strong national pride and desire for respect from the outside world, sharpened by their sense of being under siege.

''The world does not understand us,'' said Shahryar Eivazzadeh, in his early 30s, who works at a software company in north Tehran. Many young people may dislike the current government but they shudder at the thought of attack by the West, he said.

''Not everything is so bad here,'' he said of the criticism Iran faces. ''It's not that simple.''

In part, the strong nationalism stems from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and the vivid, frequent references to it across state media. TV images of weeping mothers, exhausted and heroic soldiers and martyred civilians are a stark reminder of how Iran suffered the last time it was invaded.

During key times, such as the recent anniversary of the war's start, hard-liners may deliberately use such images to shore up their influence. But even educated middle-class Iranians say their country sits in a rough neighborhood, surrounded by Arab countries that are not friendly, and that Iran needs ways to defend itself.

Such shared national sentiment aside, much of Tehran feels split.

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won many votes in the conservative, poorer southern neighborhoods of Tehran, where people responded to his populist call for sharing the country's oil wealth.

Little of that sharing has happened, however, and even former Ahmadinejad supporters in parliament and the media have raised complaints about his economic performance.

In the city's more upscale and modern north, the criticism is much sharper: Some shake their heads in disgust when the president's name comes up." ...

Associated Press "Tehran: Split Between Liberal, Hard-Line" New York Times October 4, 2007


... "Still, majorities in 46 of the 47 countries [surveyed by the Pew Research Center] agreed that environmental protection should be a priority, “even if it causes slower economic growth and some loss of jobs.” Majorities in the same number of countries said that their traditional way of life was getting lost. At least half of the respondents in those 46 countries said, “Our way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence.” ...

Brian Knowlton "Globalization Is Good, According to World. Sort Of." New York Times October 5, 2007

Tehran, Iran.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.


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