Ramblings on Iran

Tehran Travel Blog

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Sean Connery.

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Sean Connery and the great leader.

Tell me ... are there similarities between these two faces? ... Sean Connery and this.

Personal Choices and Dress Code


Due to its less than benevolent (or fair) government, Iran seems synonymous with oppression.

The great leader. See the similarity?
  However, the look and feel of the country isn’t too different from others in the region … many prohibitions parallel social norms but the key difference is that people don’t have a choice, eg. the prohibition of alcohol and dress codes for both men and women. 


Choice is a tricky thing … Where I grew up, it was traditional for unmarried Dayak women to be topless in the longhouses.  With globalisation, few (if any) would do this now but nevertheless the choice is no longer there due to legal and decency considerations.  Choices now appear limited to what’s considered acceptable from a Western (or Islamic) view. 


In Yazd, I went out one evening in calf-length shorts after consulting some locals at my hotel.  Well, I certainly drew some stares!  I incrementally lowered the waist down to my hips to cover my lower legs.   Sitting down further enhanced my exposure!  Fortunately I didn’t require a second visit to the police station. 


The Iranian dress-code for women is falling victim to the success of the Islamic Revolution!  The Revolution (and dress code) boosted the female literacy rate because rural parents were no longer apprehensive about sending their girls to schools and universities (whereas the Shah prohibited the headscarf … talk about choice or lack thereof).  The highly-literate young are now pushing the boundaries in all facets of life, including dress code. 


Religious Freedom


On another issue of choice … religious freedom.  It is hard to know who to believe:


·         I met a Zoroastrian who described South African styled discrimination about 20 years ago, eg. separate buses and drinking fountains for Zoroastrians in his town.

·         I then met some Bahais (breakaway from Islam) who are discriminated in all walks of life, eg. denied public tertiary education, government employment and their traditional burial.  They are the most oppressed group and dispute the severity of the discrimination against groups like Zoroastrians. 

·         The medical student I met explained that Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians (but not Sunni Muslims or Bahais) are represented in the Majlis or legislative assembly (3, 1 and 1 reserved seats respectively).  Their representation exceeds their proportion in the population but I suspect it achieves little in practice. 

·         And on my first visit to Tehran, I noticed more churches than mosques while on the highway.  This trip, I dined at the Armenian Club which as a Christian establishment did not have to comply with the dress code.  Of course the government bars Muslims from entering these premises.

·         Fortunately for the minorities, there isn’t a requirement for Muslims to adopt Muslim (Arab-derived) names.  So many Iranians regardless of religion use traditional Persian (secular) names … a very pretty name “Mozhgan” means eyelashes (but in practice sometimes accompanied by very strong eyebrow …yes, one big one with two indistinguishable halves)


lisalush says:
Ha! You are right! They do look alike. I wonder if we all really do have a look alike out there... £50 to anyone who finds ours!
Posted on: Aug 18, 2006
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Sean Connery.
Sean Connery.
The great leader.  See the similar…
The great leader. See the simila…
photo by: macajam