Visitors back from Tehran talk of problems. One is the pollution. They are shocked that the city’s favourite mountain, Damavand, can no longer be seen from its streets. For a smog has descended on the capital, fed by the fumes of hundreds of thousands of cars stuck in traffic cars, some of them churning out black smoke from their environmentally unfriendly engines. All this is made worse by the fumes from all the heating systems dealing with what is probably going to be a cold winter. So severe is the problem that newspapers have been advising people with respiratory difficulties to stay at home.
Another problem is the rising prices caused by the withdrawal of government subsidies on key items like fuel and water. They are economically necessary, but in the short term that is not much comfort for families already struggling to deal with Tehran’s high cost of living.
And then there are all those geological fault lines which could trigger an earthquake at any moment. President Ahmadinejad, for whom Tehran is home, is well aware of the problems and is keen to get about three million to move from the overcrowded capital. In the meantime, the smog, high prices and the danger of those fault lines make life challenging for all, including Christians.