I was born in Iran at Mahallat, Markazi province. Looking back at the years while I was growing up leaves me with a nostalgic feeling. My early childhood in Mahallat is like nothing I have encountered. Playing in the warm water and hiking across the mountains is a memory I will eternally cherish. For the benefit of those who have never been to Iran or those who come across it in the media for all the wrong reasons, Mahallat is in the Markazi Province. It is largely agricultural, having a conducive environment and climate that has seen it become a leading exporter of flowers.
This was my main occupation as I grew up especially during the weekends and school holidays. We would tend to the flowers and attend religiously to the animal flower festivals. This was the source of my love for a beautiful environment, a passion that I still have to date. Having been living in Mahallat still feels me with pride. I recall with joy how I used to enjoy seeing people from all walks of life touring our area in the belief that the hot springs possessed medical benefits. I have never disputed this but there are times that I tend to think that these benefits were being exaggerated.
But I dare not say that aloud. But there are many things in Iran that one can’t say in public. Growing however in the era of the Iranian Revolution still leaves me with images that I have not found elsewhere in the world. I was born to a family of Mid-level average income. Life was not that bad at home considering my parents could afford much with their income, enough to make us comfortable and get the best education possible. Much better compared to other children in the some neighborhoods. (Davar Ardalan, 37).
Although I was not born before the Iranian revolution era, I could tell from the misery in my mothers and father’s eyes that life had changed, and not for the better. To understand the situation in Iran, it is important to have an in depth look at the Iranian Revolution and how it has helped shape the current Iran. Iran was turned into an Islamic republic in 1979, the Monarch system having been overthrown. Under the leadership of the monarch, Iran had taken an unprecedented path where western values and influence was creeping in and becoming largely accepted.
Underlying this westernization however was a large breed of dissatisfied Shiites who felt they were being sidelined. Many, especially the poor drawn from the Shiite population, felt that inequality was rapidly growing; the rise in the per capita income could clearly indicate these widening disparities. The elite were the greatest supporters of the monarchy while the poor continued living in a state of disillusionment; capitalism was gradually thriving at the expense of the lower income groups who felt that socialism was the only way out of the quagmire.
Ayatollah Khomeni was the key figure behind this discontentment and was vocally speaking against these economic injustices. He pledged to introduce economic reforms and introduce traditional Iranian values. This is what drove his popularity to a tumultuous level. He was against western imperialists who he blamed to be behind the woes facing Iran. He took over the government in 1979 and replaced the then prime minister. A referendum that took place sanctioned the birth of another constitution. He amassed powers and surrounded himself with allies in the government.
He sought to put an end to the growth of westernization. He instituted a system of leadership that was highly religious and that was seeking to get rid of all ‘satanic’ practices. Stringent measures were put in place to ensure that all people adhered to the Sharia law. Women were supposed to wear their black veils covering their faces (Shirin Ebadi and Azadeh Moaveni, 21). He also took to executing those he perceived to be opposed to his regime. However, the Islamic revolution as it came to be known later has been hailed, as my father usually tells me, for rejuvenating the economy.
This though was at the expense of those who were in the opposition, those who were persecuted and their parties suppressed. It is this radicalism and fundamentalism that has not endeared the revolution to most people as it led to the suppression of individual rights. Although my father is not happy with how the regime trampled on the minority, he is happy for his flower farm was able to thrive and thrive rather well. This farming especially in my childhood that helped instill some sort of discipline in me (Azadeh Moaveni; 33). It is an activity that requires dedication and hard work unmatched by any other I have come across.
My parents wanted to mould me into a better and successful person than them and ensured that a high sense of discipline and independence got into me. They a times would let me to take over the management of the farm just to see how I fared. This is what gave me exposure into how the environment could be conserved and also made me to know that good things only come through hard work. This is a philosophy that I have come to adapt (Shusha Guppy, 21). This is also a philosophy that is adopted by majority of people in Iran as they go through their day-to-day economic activities.
A look at the background of Iran reveals a number of things. It is founded on a mixture of command economy and individual enterprise. Iran’s economy has been on the rise, a fact attributed to the expansion in the service industries and in agriculture. This is of no surprise considering that Iran leads the world in terms of natural gas and oil reserves. Majority of people in Iran are employed in the agricultural farms, this is an industry that continues to play a vital role in the economy of Iran (Azar Nafisi, 19).
Tourist-wise, it remains one of the most attractive centres in the world due to the historical sites that exists. This contributes to a significant portion of the GDP, though still affected by the volatile nature of relations amongst the various states in Middle East. To understand my view of the world and also any stand that I may partake, it is important to understand the system of governance that reigns in Iran and composition of its people. Iran is a vast country ranked as the 18th largest in the world. It comprises of many ethnic communities that are brought together by the Persian culture.
Although the main language is Persian, a large proportion of people also speak a few other dialects in addition to Persian (Afschineh Latifi, 43). With a population of over 70 million, a large proportion of the population is Muslim of the Shia origin who comprise of over 90%. The minority are Sunni and the non-Muslims. In my life in Iran, I have come to witness discrimination against the minority. Although I belong to the Shia branch, I have witnessed heart-rending instances where the Bahai Faith members have been persecuted and discriminated against.
It is scenes like these that usually lead many people to write articles either in the local dailies or in the Internet condemning such discrimination (Tara Bahrampour, 37). The Iranian culture is deeply influenced by Islam, especially the Shia Islam. Archaeologists claim that this culture owes its origin to central Asia. Islam resonates in almost every aspect of life in Iran, be it literature or architecture. This emanates from the invasion of the Persians by the Arabs who introduced Islam and its way of life including the rituals.
The unique culture of Iranians can be seen also in their staple food. Almost every province in Iran has its main dish; the main meal all over however is seasoned rice (Firoozeh Dumas, 44). The system of governance and political leaders in Iran leave a lot to be desired especially in the western medias’ eyes. In Iran, matters appertaining to governance are in accordance with the 1979 constitution. It confers immense powers to the supreme leader who is also the commander-in-chief. There is also the president of Iran elected for a maximum two terms.
He exercises executive powers but the final say in the state rests with the supreme leader. He also has power to appoint a council of ministers (Cottam, Richard,36). The constitution allows the legislature to be unicameral contrary to the bicameral legislature that was there before the present constitution of 1979. All the members of the legislature are elected with the express approval of the Council of Guardians that is made up of 12 jurists as selected by the supreme leader. It is this council that is mandated with the responsibility of interpreting the constitution.
It also has powers to veto the legislative assembly. The country is comprised of 30 provinces that are under a governor. Iran’s relation with the international community is rather lukewarm. With a political environment that is considered harsh, the past decades have witnessed influx of exiles and immigrants especially to the western world (Orwin, George, 19). Iran record of human rights has rather been grim with the current and past regimes being recognized internationally of brutality and torture directed to its own citizens.
Iran has in the past been treading on a rather difficulty path having in the eight years war been locked in a turf of war with Iraq. Its relations with the United States for example, has been rather uneasy starting with 1979 during the Ayatollah Khomeni reign when militants held captive the U. S embassy as a retribution for it having overthrown An Iran government in 1954. The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorist activities (Gelareh Asayesh; 16).