Monday, June 27, 2005

Tehran Whispers

Iran Focus:
Decades of authoritarian rule have forced Iranians to develop innovative ways of expressing themselves. Iran Focus reporters in the sprawling capital gauge the daily mood as seen or heard in graffiti, jokes, comments, and so on. READ MORE

“First round: The Seven Samurai, Second round: The Prince and the Pauper
(graffiti in east Tehran’s Narmak district, alluding to the first round of the election with seven candidates and the run-off between former president Rafsanjani and the haggardly-looking ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)

Interview with Ahmad Bozorgian, member of Iran’s parliament and senior aide to newly-elected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Q. One of the first things Mr. Ahmadinejad did when he became Tehran mayor was to order gender segregation on elevators. Do you think he will make this a nation-wide policy now?

A. What would be wrong with that? It’s been proven that if men and women are segregated in educational establishments, they each achieve much more. When we separate boys and girls, it’s not that we don’t trust them. We want to protect them more.

(Cutting from Sharq newspaper, stuck on a bus window)
Written on the wall of a hospital near Tajrish Square, north Tehran: Three things to do for our new president: 1. Brush teeth every day, 2. Take a shower every few days, 3. Buy a new suit.

“No Rahbar, No Akbar, No Antar”: Huge graffiti on the wall of a high school near Azadi Square (Rahbar means leader in Persian and refers to Supreme Leader Khamenei, Akbar refers to Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Antar means monkey in Persian and has become a popular way of referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among young Tehranis)

Overheard in a taxi: A foreign journalist comes to Tehran to cover the elections. He goes to a mosque with his guide and sees people queuing up for food.
“If this is where people eat, where do they pray?” he asked.
“In Tehran University, if you mean Friday prayers,” the guide answered.
“If they pray in universities, where do students and professors go?” asked the puzzled journalist.
“They are in prison.”
“Then where are the criminals?”
“Who do you think is running the country?” the guide said.
• Written on a large official banner near Vali-e Asr Square:
“Ahmadinejad: The freedom that exists in Iran does not exist any where else in the world
Graffiti scribbled underneath: Freedom to Kill

• Ahmadinejad and Khatami strongly disliked each other. Once Khatami arrived an hour late for a ceremony in Tehran University where he was to be awarded an honorary degree. He told the audience: “If only the mayor of Tehran could do something to alleviate the traffic, people wouldn’t turn up so late for meetings”.
On hearing this, Ahmadinejad retorted, “If the President used the presidential office in downtown Tehran rather than move to [the Shah’s] Saadabad Palace in north Tehran, it would take him a few minutes to come to Tehran University”.

Quotable Notable:

• “The military organizations did an excellent job in staging this election. They did so well in getting their favourite candidate elected that next time, there need not be even an election. The Revolutionary Guards and the Guardian Council could just announce the result in advance. It would be much more transparent”.

Rasoul Montajebnia, a former senior official and member of the Combatant Clergymen Association