We asked four Iranians, persecuted for varying religious and political reasons unable to return to their country what their ideal Iran looks like.
The recent protests in Iran have sent a clear message that Iranians are unhappy with the state of their country. From economic policies to strictly enforced religious laws, Iranians are fed up with the status quo. I asked four Iranians unable to return to their homeland what they envisioned for their dream Iran.
Reza is in exile for being a student activist. He lives in the US.
I would say that I want the future Iran to be more female and by more female, I don’t mean necessarily only the political sphere, but generally, like less violent, and more relaxed. Less centered around only functionality. And less rigid, less urban, with less cars and less noise. Of course, my beloved future Iran is diverse too. So whoever you are with whatever tastes you have, you’ll find your place. You’ll find a place you love to live in. I personally don’t like big cities with too many skyscrapers and cars. There will definitely be more arts than it is right now. It’s more international. It almost has no borders, no customs. And people who live in Iran are there not because they don’t have the choice to leave, but because they want to stay. Because in Iran one of the many problems today is that many people who still live in the country are there because they have to. And that brings up a whole other point, that in our future Iran, coercion and force don’t have a place.
Nabil is in exile for being a Baha’i. He lives in the US. Nabil is using a pseudonym to protect the safety of his family in Iran.
My ideal Iran would be a place where there is no disparity between the poor and the rich, where laborers are paid in time, and are not humiliated; where the rich do not boast of their riches, and exploit the poor. My ideal Iran is where there is no embezzlement, graft, and bribery without any accountability. My ideal Iran is where there is no religious hypocrisy; politics and religion are completely disjointed; the clergy have no say in the politics and their institutions and power are completely dissolved.
Above all, my ideal Iran is where morality becomes part of Iranian culture, the rule of clergies in my country had adversely affected foundations of morality which will not be corrected easily even if the political system of my country changes. I wish Iran would be spiritually revived, where honesty, love for humanity, unity, and amity among different groups, care for others, and lack of excessive materialism, among many other virtues, become a reality.
Farshid is in exile for being an atheist. He lives in the UK.
My ideal Iran looks like a developed country with clean air, great nature and happy people and lots of tourists from around the world in its streets. It looks like a sunny day with clean blue sky with high grey Alborz mountain ranges with its white peaks on the distant horizon, colourful cities including houses and buildings built by reddish bricks, well-paved sidewalks, and streets surrounded by tall green trees.
In my ideal Iran, when you walk on the streets you can hear people’s laughter, clicks of their drink glasses, and happy songs from shops and bars.
When I think of my ideal Iran, I feel proud of its great history and heritage, which all national celebrations are secular celebrations, originating from either nature (Nowrouz, Yalda, Mehrgan, Tirgan, etc.) or national events (Cyrus birthday, Ferdowsi’s birthday, etc.)
My ideal Iran taste like Shiraz wine, Ghormesabzi (an Iranian traditional dish), Koobideh kebab and hot Naan (a round thin loaf of Iranian traditional bread), an ice cream, a watermelon. It tastes like a sweet long kiss of a couple when they kiss each other freely and without any fear in public spaces.
My ideal Iran smells like Caspian (Khazar) beach, wet trunk of trees in northern jungles of Iran, the smell of Jasmin flowers in house yards, cooked smoked Iranian rice, and sweet smell of funfairs.
My ideal Iran does not look like remains of a city after a massive earthquake. It does not look like a drug addicted with dirty and worn-out clothes. It does not look like the body of dead fishes in a dried lake. It does not look like the wounds of lashes on the back of a young man. It does not look like a dead body of a hanged man, swinging in an urban square in front of people’s eyes.
My ideal Iran does not sound like cry and elegy of people in religious ceremonies. It does not sound like women’s scream when they are being raped, or girls’ scream in streets when they are being arrested by moral police because of obligatory Hijab rules. It does not sound like whip, gun shot, nor car accident. It does not sound like children’s cry, when they are forced to work in streets while they are suffering from hunger.
My ideal Iran does not feel like the feeling of an exhausted father of a poor family who he works hard every day from morning to night, but he cannot still afford his family’s needs, because he is not only under-paid, but also he has not paid for several months by his cruel employers.
Niki is in exile for being a Baha’i. She has requested not to use her full name to protect the safety of her family in Iran.
My ideal Iran feels safe.
It tastes sweet.
It smells like roses.
Instead of focusing on their own lives and benefits, people and government think about welfare of others.
It doesn’t sound too busy and noisy.
People’s future will not be unpredictable, and everyone, regardless of their beliefs, can plan a bright future for themselves and their children. There will be no inequality and fear.
It will not be bitter.
It will not smell like smoke.
Tara is a journalist and campaigner based in San Francisco, US