Tuesday, 18 March 2014

proxy wars, conspiracies and paranoia

It's thought that over a million Iranians now live in the USA, and I suspect there’s a few more would like to join them. I am thinking about this as we ride the bus to Tehran. I guess the reasons are obvious. I reflect how many of the people dislike their government, how religious fundamentalists seem to have a disproportionate influence over the country, how the government monitors and records its citizens’ use of the internet, how it wastes billions supporting wars and political games overseas, how the mismanagement of the economy has been endured by the people and yet, despite all this, how friendly and hospitable they are. Mmmm.....

One significant difference is that in America there is free speech. You could argue that this is abused by heavily-biased media, but it still contrasts sharply with Iran. Facebook, Flickr and Blogspot are banned as well as satellite TV. Mind you, nearly everyone in Iran can still access these. By using proxy servers you can get round the filtering of banned websites.(That's how I'm able to post this blog.) Newspapers here may get closed down if the authorities are not best pleased.  Bloggers and activists get locked up.  What all this censorship seems to create is a weird paranoia.Perhaps this explains some of the conspiracy theories that knock around. Or maybe Iranians understand the world better than I do. I am sometimes reminded of George Orwell's 1984.  Despite living in a digital age with global communications I can't help wondering if anyone is better informed either here in Iran (or anywhere else for that matter).  One reason there are not more tourists here is the image of Iran given by Western media and politicians and by the Iranian government themselves. The best coverage I can see is from The Guardian. But what must it be like to live in a country where even peaceful protesters can be imprisoned? Under the last Shah's rule people were frightened to trust others because he had a network of spies. Is it any better now?

Gayle is far less paranoid than I am. ("Don't get the camera out! There's a policeman.")I have opted to change the names of Iranians I write about here just to be on the safe side..........


  1. Thank you for your fascinating and informative blogs. I am following your progress with much interest. I am sure I would share your paranoia! I hope all continues to go well with your journey - take care, and all the best.

  2. Thanks for the sentiments. Iran is a fascinating place. On one level everything seems normal and ordinary. It's only when you talk to folk here that you realise how many problems there are. This could be a great country but for its government - like many countries!