Thursday, December 08th, 2016
As family and friends gather together to celebrate the popular Persian festival of Yalda Night (or Shab-e Yalda) on 21 December, Christians in Iran have a great opportunity to share their faith. They would appreciate prayer for their boldness, for anointed words, and for their protection.
Yalda Night is a holiday celebrated by all Iranians, regardless of ethnicity or religious background. Celebrated on the...
Thursday, November 03rd, 2016
Tehran is an important city, but breathing is a consistent problem: 3,000 people die a year because of air pollution.
Carbon monoxide from thousands of cars is kept hanging in the air for hours because the Alborz Mountains in the east of the city traps the winds coming from the west. Periodic sand storms don’t help. The problem has been getting a lot worse.
The government has started to take action. Cars...
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
Iran is celebrating 24 medals at the Paralympic games, including 8 golds, but there is also mourning over the death of cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad. The athlete, who died on Sunday 18 September following a crash in a race the previous day, is the first athlete to die during a Paralympic competition. A moment’s silence was observed in Iran to mark Golbarnezhad’s death.
Despite wide coverage of the...
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
‘Iran, first country to ban Pokemon Go’ ran the headlines earlier this month. And then a little further down the story the journalist would explain how internet-savvy young Iranians are already trying to work out how to get round this latest ban.
Iran’s attempts to control the internet have generally not been successful. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Telegram are either banned or have been in the past, but the...
Monday, July 25th, 2016
On 4th July Abbas Kiarostami died, aged 76. He was Iran’s most famous film director.
There were many tributes. Martin Scorsese said he was ‘deeply shocked and saddened’; President Rouhani said Kiarostami’s work was an ‘everlasting achievement.’ For the funeral on the 10th of July thousands lined the streets of Tehran to say farewell.
Abbas Kiarostami’s life and unconventional films reflect an...
Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
Along with the rest of the Muslim world, Iran is fasting this month from dawn to night fall. On the street restaurants and cafes will be closed. There will be no eating, not a sip of water should be drunk during the day.
At night it is all change. There is almost a festival atmosphere in the air. Usually families and friends will gather to break the fast as night falls with a special meal known as Iftar. People...
Friday, May 06th, 2016
Marriage isn’t doing so well in Iran these days. The divorce rate has shot up by 65% in the last ten years, and now nearly 50% of men and women who are of the normal marriage age are still single. Such is the concern that even the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has urged the government to address the issue.
The church is already at work. Much pastoral time is given to helping broken marriages, written...
Friday, April 08th, 2016
Iran holds an unpleasant record.
It is the number one country in the world for sentencing juveniles (under 18s) to death by hanging. After the juvenile reaches 18, the sentence is often carried out.
According to the human rights group Amnesty International, between 2005 and 2015 Iran executed 73 young people who had been convicted as juveniles. The method of execution is hanging.
At present there are at...
Friday, March 18th, 2016
Executions in Iran surged to nearly 1,000 in 2015, the highest level in more than a quarter of a century, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran reported last week. It is also one of only a few countries that still hangs juvenile offenders.
In Geneva last week, Dr Ahmed Shaheed reported to the UN Human Rights Council that at least 966 people were put to death in Iran last year. That’s...
Thursday, February 18th, 2016
A newly launched smartphone app is helping young Iranians avoid the morality police on Tehran’s streets. Iran's feared ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ (morality police) patrol Tehran to identify men and women who violate Iran’s moral codes. Now, the ‘Gershad’ app is using crowd-sourcing to map the locations of each squadron, so that ordinary Iranians can avoid crossing paths with them.
The morality police most often target...
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
Iran has met its obligations under last July’s nuclear agreement; in return crippling economic sanctions have been lifted and the economy should thrive. The question is – will the ordinary wage earner benefit?
There are two reasons for doubt; and a serious fear.
Reason one for doubting an economic bonanza is the price of oil, Iran’s main export: it’s plummeted to less than $30 a barrel. Ironically President...
Monday, December 21st, 2015
A high-profile performance in Iran by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra was cancelled at the last moment at the end of November, because it was due to feature female musicians. This is the latest example of the ultraconservative establishment causing havoc in Iran’s arts scene, and the latest widely-publicised example of the inequality that women battle against in Iran.
Despite pledges by President Rouhani to...
Monday, November 09th, 2015
At the end of government rallies in Iran ‘Death To America’ is drearily chanted. For the vast majority of Iranians the slogan is embarrassing. They resent being forced to chant it. Iranians admire the US, indeed Iranians are the most pro-US people in the Middle East.
It seems unease over the slogan has even reached the Supreme Leader’s office. On the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the 1979 US...
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
The anger in Iran over the deadly stampede at Mecca on 24 September during this year's Haj (pilgrimage) continues to rise, not least because the death toll of Iranians was the highest: more than 450 were killed.
There is anger at Saudi Arabia's perceived negligence, anger over the delay in bodies being repatriated, and anger that thirty six pilgrims are still unaccounted for. And this week Iran's...
Thursday, September 17th, 2015
‘Kidney for sale’ can be found scrawled on the walls of hospitals across Iran. In the only country where the organ trade is legal, the streets near hospitals have been turned into a 'kidney eBay'. Tragically, poverty is the main motive for many of the Iranians who are selling their kidneys for transplant.
With long waits on the official waiting list, many desperate patients seek kidneys from private individuals....
Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Iran has traditionally had a strong marriage culture, and family breakdown used to be mercifully rare in comparison to many other nations. But unfortunately divorce rates have been steadily increasing over recent years, and now approximately one in three marriages break down in Iran. It is a worrying truth that Iran’s rate of divorce has now caught up with West’s.
Low wages, high unemployment and...
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Thousands of Iranians publicly celebrated the nuclear deal announced recently. Drivers honked their horns; others made the “V” for victory sign; there was even dancing.
The celebration has got nothing to do with the technical detail of Iran’s nuclear program; it is all about the hope that Iran will return to normality. Hope that the economy will improve and provide salaries that meet a family’s needs; hope that...
Monday, June 22nd, 2015
In 2015 to date Iran’s judiciary has ordered the execution of well over 400 Iranians. This means three people on average are judicially killed every day. Most have died by being hanged. Some of these executions happen in public places.
These public executions broadcast a simple and brutal message to every Iranian: the state can kill you if it wants to.
The ‘if it wants to’ is true because all the major human...
Friday, June 05th, 2015
Iran is the tenth highest consumer of cosmetic surgery in the world. Botox, lip augmentation, upper eyelid surgery, nose jobs and eye lift procedures are all increasingly popular as women strive to achieve a particular notion of beauty. A leading Iranian psychologist ties the rising rate of surgery to falling self-esteem.
Physical beauty is a growing obsession in Iran. Perhaps this is not surprising...
Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Making up 10% of Iran’s population, there are nearly five and a half million Kurds in Iran. They are a major ethnic group, living mainly in the west of Iran. They have their own language and culture, and most are Sunni Muslims, not Shia like Iranians.
The relationship of these Kurds with the rest of Iran has not been easy. Under both the Pahlavi Shahs there were rebellions against Tehran’s rule, and from 1979 –...