Society

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...
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
The early findings of Iran’s National Population and Housing census show that the country’s population is now about 75 million. That’s five million more than it was five years ago. Part of the reason for the hike might be President Ahmadinejad. He has poured scorn on family planning as a Western, secular import and encouraged Iranians to have large families, saying the country could support another 50 million on top...
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
On Monday 21st November floods have killed eight people and made another 60,000 plus homeless in the SW provinces of Khuzestan and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad. Iran’s major relief charity, the Iranian Red Crescent Society, has been involved giving out temporary shelters and medical help. In the North West of the country there is still intense anger over Lake Urmia which is fast drying up. This will destroy much of...
Saturday, November 05th, 2011
Iran’s $2.8 billion banking scam is still very much in the headlines. This week President Ahmadinejad’s Economic’s Minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, faced an impeachment motion in parliament. He survived. There have also been calls for the President to present himself before the house to answer questions about the scandal. There is no indication he will go. Over in Canada the man at the centre of the scandal, Mahmoud...
Friday, September 30th, 2011
As ordinary Iranians battle with rising inflation, they are not impressed that seven of their banks have lost 2.8 billion dollars in the worst banking scam Iran has known. Earlier this month, reports began to circulate that from June 2009 till August 2011, businessman Mah-Afarid Khosravi forged letters of credit from the country’s second largest bank, Bank Sederat, and passed these on to other banks, including the...

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