November 05, 2013

Modernity versus History in Tehran and Belfast

Christina Lamb wrote in the Sunday Times from Tehran describing how the young people live. She said:
"It is Friday evening in the Lorca cafe in downtown Tehran. Norah Jones is crooning over the speakers and the tables are packed with young people drinking lattes and smoothies, smoking and texting on their iPhones as they plan their night out. 
The boys are in jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets; the girls in tight jeans and colourful trainers or boots, headscarves so far back on their heads as to be barely a gesture. Later some of them will go to a friend’s loft-style apartment to watch Modern Family or Top Gear on satellite television, while eating pomegranate pips or pistachio nougat, and surfing the internet. One leaves to head to a rock concert." 

However there's an important qualification. Christina Lamb quoted a 21 year old chemical engineering student called Sohail who said: 
"You might look at our lives and think what's the problem? We're doing all these things but it's behind closed doors. We've no freedom. We'd just like to be normal like the rest of the world."
Christina Lamb then reported how just down the road from the cafe is a former American embassy known as the "Den of Espionage", taken by Islamic students in November 1979 and now used as a base for the Basji militia. November 4 2013 was the anniversary of the takeover and was celebrated by a group called the Death to the US Committee in an event called a "Grand Day of Death to America." A deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard said:
"The crimes of US leaders and international Zionism in dealing with Iran's great nation will never be erased from public memories and minds."

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