Society

Friday, November 13th, 2009
Of the 6,000 plus killed by swine flu in the world, half these fatalities have been in North and South America. In Iran the impact of the disease has been very limited; so far only 33 so far have died of the virus. Nevertheless the authorities are not taking any chances. This week 271 schools have been closed across the greater Tehran area; there are reports of limiting the numbers of pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia...
Tuesday, November 03rd, 2009
There is a 65% chance of Tehran experiencing an earthquake measuring more than 7 on the Richter scale in the next five years. Such a quake would destroy 80% of the city’s buildings, including nearly all of the fire stations. Hundreds of thousands would die. Given the government operates from Tehran, some argue that the capital should be moved; others say that the city must work hard to make buildings quake proof....
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Between October 13th and 16th there were 470 serious road accidents which left 135 dead and 625 injured according to the Tehran Times. Most of the accidents were due to speeding and taking corners badly, especially on the winding roads from Tehran up to the Northern provinces. After heart disease, road accidents are the second major cause of death in Iran, with victims usually killed by head injuries. Nearly every...
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
With women retiring at 55 and men at 60 with 1/35 of their final salary multiplied by the number of years they have worked, Iran’s pension system is better than many other countries. There is one problem – inflation. At present it is running at about 25% and with oil prices falling, demand for exports rising, and those possible sanctions on the horizon, there is no sign of improvement. This puts a lot of pressure on...
Monday, October 05th, 2009
Unemployment in Iran is officially running at about 12.5% which is comparable to other countries in the Middle East, and better than Europe’s Spain which is suffering about 17.5% unemployment these days. Examine the Iran figures a little closer and there is some good news: the unemployment rate is less than 5% for the over thirties. This means the bad news is if you are under thirty. Here some reports say that of...
Monday, September 28th, 2009
Petrol is a stressful subject for many Iranians. Pampered for many years with subsidized petrol, in 2007 the government upset drivers by putting the price up from about eight US cents a litre, to ten. Then the rationing came – 3.5. litres per day for private cars – and they became furious. Indeed there were riots in Tehran. The anger not only reflects the fragile state of many family incomes, knocked off budget by...
Friday, September 18th, 2009
Anecdotes, websites, carefully researched film documentaries which win awards at international festivals all point to a major rise in prostitution, especially in Tehran where runaway girls tend to end up. One website says the city hosts about 250 brothels and earlier the newspaper ‘Entekhab’ threw out the figure of 85,000 girls on the street. Nobody of course knows, but the oldest profession has clearly been...
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
The Supreme Leader has asked for a review of the human sciences curriculum (subjects such as Economics, Psychology, and Sociology). He believes that much of their content is based on a Western materialistic world view and so could encourage ‘doubt and disbelief in Islamic principles.’ His request is a reminder that the government, especially in the aftermath of the disputed election, wants to keep a firm hand on the...
Wednesday, September 02nd, 2009
When Mohsen Rouhalamini died in prison two weeks after being detained on July 9th, the prison authorities said the cause of death was meningitis. However on August 31st Iran’s Forensic Medicine Organization told the Mehr News Agency that it was not meningitis, but ‘physical stress’ cause by ‘multiple beatings’. This disclosure has shocked the political establishment and alarmed the whole country. The shock is...
Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
While three women are due to be in President Ahmadinejad’s new cabinet, a 57 year old teacher, Alieh Eghdamdoust is in Evin prison for peacefully demonstrating for equal legal rights with men. As well as their testimony being worth half that of a man’s in a court, women also face discrimination in laws that deal with marriage, divorce, and child custody. As Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel prize-winner, has shown, Iranian...
Monday, August 17th, 2009
In millions of homes the daily torture is not politics: it is drugs. This remains the number on scar on the heart of the nation. Most addicts use opium or heroin, which flows over the borders from Afghanistan. However, experts have noticed some worrying changes. One is the increased usage of the heroin variants, ‘crystal’ and ‘crack’ whose intensity has caused a number of fatal overdoses; and the other is that toads...
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
A constant strain for Iranian society is the uncertainty of people’s legal rights if they get caught up in the revolutionary judiciary system. It is common knowledge that normal procedures are not always followed. This Monday a senior reformist politician, Mehdi Karroubi, has turned this strain into fierce anger. In a public letter to Hashem Rafsanjani he claims that both women and young men among the hundreds...
Monday, July 27th, 2009
All the passengers and crew of the Caspian Airways Tehran to Yerevan flight died last week when it crashed sixteen minutes after take off. The salt in the wound for the 168 families grieving the loss of their loved ones is that this aircraft, the Russian made Tupolev jet, has a terrible safety record. In 2002 a Tupolev crashed in the North West of Iran, killing 199, and in 2006 one crashed in Tehran, killing 29....
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
There is a strong strain of class conflict in the present troubles. The middle classes are furious at the way they have been treated by the conservative establishment who have relied strongly on its working class constituency. During the protests there was open mockery for Ahmadinejad's 'village' mentality, one of the chants being that for two weeks he never went for a bath. This is unpleasant and reveals the deep...
Tuesday, July 07th, 2009
The huge protests have a major ‘Twitter’ factor, which is not surprising as Iran’s young population (70% under 30) are very internet/mobile phone savvy. The one line social network tool, only two years old, is used massively to arrange meetings – and to get news out about what happens at those meetings. As Twitter users are only allowed 140 characters, including spaces, the feeling of the protesters is easily...

Pages