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Monday, May 08, 2006


Iran today

The news is filled with articles about Iran's "nuclear" program (with that word generally left standing alone to leave ambiguity as to its meaning) and the latest statements by President Ahmadinejad. But Iran is a big country. What else is going on there?

Here's one interesting article from the corporate media. In it, Knight-Ridder's Hannah Allam interviews Tehran's "fashionistas," models and clothes designers who actually concern themselves with Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt, and Christian Dior.

And here's yet another view from the socialist press. This one is a speech given by an Iranian who returned recently, after 25 years in the U.S., for a 25-day visit to Iran. Here's a taste of what he saw during his visit:

After more than 50 years of the Pahlavi Dynasty--father and son--that was ended by the 1979 Revolution, more than 50 percent of the Iranian families did not enjoy the taste of running water in their homes. This lack gave rise to a multitude of diseases, including diarrhea and trachoma. In our recent journey, I found out that throughout the entire country, including the most remote villages, families had running water at home and most homes are connected to the city sewer system.

The same with electricity: the streets of all cities and the main roads are brightly lit. The light poles of the electric lines run everywhere. Traveling along the highway between Esfahan and Shiraz, we were surprised to see workers with water trucks busily cleaning the dust and soot off the road signs and light reflectors to ensure safety of the travelers. What a change from 25 years ago!

Healthcare is provided to all children, pre-natal care to pregnant women and care to senior citizens, all at no cost. Teams of nurses and doctors and primary healthcare personnel regularly visit the rural clinics, ensuring that the local municipalities properly provide services.

Last, but not the least important, the government gives subsidies towards some of the essential food items, such as milk, rice and flour.
And for those (as in the Knight-Ridder article) who focus on the way women dress, and how it reflects the status of women in an Islamic society, there is this which suggests there's a lot more to the story:
The most recent statistics show that in 2004-2005, some 15 million students are enrolled in the Iranian schools. Out of this total, 7.4 million were female, and 7.9 million were male.

According to statistics available for the year 2004, the level of enrollment in universities reached 2.1 million students, of whom 54 percent were women.
Food for thought you aren't likely to see in the corporate media.

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