Society

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Drug addiction is an open wound in Iran. The combination of a deeply disillusioned, troubled population and a huge influx of illegal substances from neighbouring Afghanistan, has resulted in a long-term picture of widespread drug abuse. Police in Iran confiscate over a ton of narcotics a day from smugglers and, according to a recent statement by the head of Iran’s anti-narcotics police, an estimated 30 drug...
Thursday, January 24th, 2013
The collapse of the rial against the dollar continues. On Sunday January 23rd, 2013 it cost about 33,000 rials to buy one dollar. Just two days later the price of the dollar had risen to 36,250 rials. In September 2012 a dollar cost 24,000 rials, and a few years ago it was only 10,000 rials. The impact of this continuing collapse is devastating. For the average family whose income is just over 100 million rials ($...
Tuesday, January 08th, 2013
On Saturday (5th January 2013) life in Tehran virtually ground to a halt. It was the smog again. It was virtually impossible to move around, and for those with breathing problems, life became very dangerous. Already for the year March 2011 – March 2012 there are reports that over 4,000 people have died as a result of the air pollution. There are two main reasons for the smog. First there is the badly refined...
Thursday, December 06th, 2012
Launched in January 2011 Iran’s Cyber Police are having an impact, and not just among ordinary internet criminals involved in hacking, scams or identity theft. For when the Cyber Police, known as The FTA, was launched, the chief of police, Ahmadi Moghaddam, made it clear this unit would have a wider agenda, namely taking on ‘anti-revolutionary’ or ‘dissident’ groups. This has made using the web stressful for many...
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Iranians feel isolated from the world, and blockbuster Hollywood moves don't help. They tend to paint all Iranians with the same brush. The two obvious examples are ‘Not Without My Daughter’ (1991) where the seemingly charming Iranian husband of an American wife turns out to be two faced and brutal; and ‘300’ (2006), a film depicting the Battle of Thermopylae in which 300 Spartans take on the Persian army of a...
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Another week, another roller coaster ride for the Iranian economy. The up was due to inflation, and the steep sweep down was due to the deteriorating value of the rial against the dollar. At one point it was nearly 40,000 rials for one dollar. A little trip abroad became a fantasy vacation for millions. Some of the stress has been turning into more vocal anger, especially against the President and his cutting of...
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
The suffering most Iranians talk about comes in conversations about shopping or savings. General inflation is running in the region of 20 – 25% and salaries are not keeping up. This means shopping can be less than pleasant, especially for poorer families. The savings situation is perhaps even more painful, because the value of the Iranian currency has nose-dived. A year ago a US dollar was worth about 10,000 rials;...
Thursday, September 06th, 2012
Damavand, Pakdasht, Boumehen, and Pardis are towns with populations ranging from 25,000 to over 120,000. You probably haven’t heard of them. A couple of weeks ago a mild earthquake (3.8 on the Richter scale) shook these towns. They are not famous places, there were no reports of injuries, so there have been no headlines. But something is very worrying. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Boumehen, less than 50...
Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Again the world woke up to images of Iranians weeping for the dead as earthquakes shook the Tabriz area in the northwest of the country on Saturday. The first quake came at 17:23 local time and measured 6.4 on the Richter scale; the second, measuring 6.3, came just eleven minutes later. The epicenter of the quakes was in Ahar, just over a hundred kilometers northwest of Tabriz. As the quakes came, whole villages...
Friday, July 27th, 2012
The talk on the street is chickens. They are 30% more expensive than last year, and that means ordinary Iranians can’t taste their tender flesh as often as they would like. The discontent caused by the ‘chicken crisis’ became so intense that earlier this month Iran’s police chief made an intervention. He urged broadcasters not to feature films showing people eating chickens because, ‘Certain people witnessing this...
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
At present a bride has to be ten years old, but the committee for legal affairs in parliament thinks this is too old. The age should come into conformity with the teachings of their religion. So a new campaign has started to bring down the bridal age to nine. For most Iranians, this is irrelevant because they are decent parents who believe their daughters should be as well educated as their sons, as university...
Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
Iran’s Health Ministry has recently reported that Iran has 23,902 people carrying the HIV virus based on data collected from clinics and universities. It is likely the actual figure is a lot higher. The report confirms what everyone knows: HIV and drugs go together. Nearly 70% of the HIV cases reported were the result of addicts swapping dirty syringes. Nearly 20% were due to unknown causes, and 10% due to sexual...
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Ahvaz in south west Iran is the world’s worst city for air pollution according to the World Health Organisation.There are three other Iranian cities in their list of the worst ten cities for air pollution: Sanadaj (number 3), Kermanshah (number 6) and Yasouj (number 9). And while not in the worst ten, Tehran is notorious as one of the smoggiest capitals in the world. Trapped by the Alborz mountains, car fumes hang...
Friday, May 04th, 2012
As the trial of eight defendants in Iran’s largest banking scam comes to an end, the headlines go on. Again there are allegations that the fraud of 2.6 billion dollars had connections with the government, so the semi official Mehr News Agency has as its headline – ‘Main suspect in 2.6. billion fraud case had links with ex-minister’. The suspect is Mah-Afarid Amir-Khosravi, and in court, it was said he met with a...
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
At the end of this month there will be a major conference on cancer treatment in Tehran. One senior expert in the field, Dr Nematollah Rostami, has already pin pointed one of the main problems: late diagnosis. Dr Rostami says that up to two thirds of the patients found to be with cancer each year for two thirds of them (about 45,000 people) the diagnosis has come too late for treatment. This is something the...
Thursday, March 08th, 2012
Reports about last week’s parliamentary elections say there was one topic everyone was talking about: the economy. And it was not the grand place of Iran in the world’s economy they were worried about, but the rising price of their groceries, the spread of unemployment, and the problem of housing, especially in the cities. Of these three it is inflation that is probably causing the most pain. At the moment it’s...
Friday, February 17th, 2012
Iran has got used to pyramid selling scams. There was news just this month of fifteen companies being broken up. But the banking scandal last year is of a different order. About 2.6 billion dollars was embezzled using fake letters of credit. The country was shocked. The head of the Bank of Sedarat was fired, and the head of the Bank of Melli fled to Canada. He doesn’t seem keen to return. That’s not surprising as...
Friday, January 13th, 2012
Some say Iran has four million drug users. That’s an epidemic. And each drug user drags a whole family into the nightmare. In recent weeks there have been welcome headlines of success about police arrests of drug dealers. The Mehr news agency reports on January 3rd that the authorities broke nine major drug rings, killing four dealers, arresting 38, and confiscating 10 tons of narcotics. On January 8th the Tehran...
Wednesday, January 04th, 2012
The toman should be strong. The currency of a vast country awash with oil, natural gas, fertile soil, and a highly educated, internet savvy young population should be standing high in the money markets. But the toman has been slipping in its value against the dollar. And on Monday (2nd January 2012) its value sank another 13%. Experts in Tehran were quick to say that this had nothing to do with the sanctions, or the...
Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
Sanctions, danger in the air Iran’s air safety record is not brilliant. Since 2002 at least 474 passengers have been killed in air crashes. As well as weather conditions another reason given is the lack of spare parts for maintaining the aeroplanes. With the new sanctions just passed by the West this is going to get a whole lot worse. So much so that one of Iran’s most famous pilots Captain Hooshang Shahbazi, has...

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