What We're Reading: We Are Iran, By Nasrin Alavi

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We Are Iran by Nasrin Alavi.

Iran is one of the oldest civilisations with the earliest presence of humans being traced to the Lower Paleolithic times. It has one of the fastest urban growth populations in the world with it increasing from 27% to 60% between 1950 and 2002. Their literature is one of the oldest with poetry being very important to Iranians, it is said that everyone in Iran has two books in their house Koran and Hafez; one is read one is not.

In We Are Iran Nasrin Alavi shows us everything we did not know about Iran. Educates us in its history and culture and shows us that Iranians are more like us western people than we realise (even though there is nothing wrong with not being like us). She shows us how oppression does not fully work and how brave and how much strength the Iranian people have like a willow tree with their tenacity to live.

We Are Iran is a love letter to Iran in which we meet people from different walks of life and generations. Alavi with the help of bloggers writes within her eight chapters about revolution, education, football, films, love and religion.

It shows us that wherever we come from we all ultimately want the same things in life, but Iranians simply have to work a lot harder to get them.

(A short section from the book which will amuse you.

In November 2003 Iran’s hardline judiciary discreetly introduced the first ever fine for drink driving. (It was hidden away in a list of 171 other driving offences.) The fine was 10.000 tomans (approx. $11) and not the customary punishment of public flogging and imprisonment.)

And yet this is bittersweet as what amuses one about this is the fact that this happens in a country in which the authorities can put you on trial for a crime that is punishable by death like blasphemy. You are free to get fined for committing an offence against the Sharia law but you cannot say your honest opinion about it.

To end on a positive note here is one of my favourite sentence from the book:

Today young people make up to 70 per cent of the population and lead the way in calling for a secular democracy.

This shows us that young people will always be the answer, that young people get things done, that they will have the cake and eat it. Photography by Louisa Hall. 

Rhiannon BrittenComment