The IranianUnique Travel


email us

US Transcom
US Transcom

Shahin & Sepehr

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Advertise with The Iranian

    News & views

TEHRAN, IRAN, 28 January, 1999: Two Iranian girls stand next to a modern sculpture, January 28, in Tehran. Iran's teenagers are showing scant interest in the 20th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, for which official festivities are about to begin. [Photo by Atta Kenare, AFP] Thanks to Payman Arabshahi

To be 20 in Tehran ...

TEHRAN, Jan 29 (AFP) - The boys don baseball caps, the girls trainers under their black Islamic veils or chadors.

If they can afford it, they'll eat out in one of Tehran's many burger joints or pizzerias, as trendy as any fast-food eatery in the West.

Iran's teenagers or 20-somethings are showing scant interest in the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, for which official festivities are about to begin.

"Football is my thing," said 18-year-old Mohsen, who is getting ready to go to university.

His bedroom at home is plastered with posters of Iran's football stars, especially Ali Daei and Khodadad Azizi, "who were lucky enough to get taken on by German clubs."

The only picture of an official here is of Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami, voted into office in 1997 by millions of youngsters who like Mohsen, were eager for change.

"It was the first time I voted in my life. He was the only person who spoke about young people, so I voted for him," he said.

Last month Khatami again challenged Iran's establishment to pay greater heed to young people's wishes. "Young people need legitimate pleasure and we cannot ask them to go only to the mosque," he said.

With about half the population aged 20 or less, Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world, and Iranians can vote at the age of 15.

Every day, young people quietly but persistently undermine the social and religious taboos traditionalists have imposed on Iranian society since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Police continue to swoop on house parties in a country where alcoholic drinks are forbidden and boys and girls must not socialise outside marriage.

But they can now be seen walking hand in hand in Tehran's parks, an unthinkable sight a little over a year ago.

The blockbuster film Titanic, seen all over the world, is banned from Iranian cinema screens, but people have watched the film at home on thousands of pirate video tapes circulating across the country, while a government paper even devoted a special report to what has become the cult film for Iranian youngsters.

"They never knew the shah and have only a vague idea of Khomeini. After 20 years of the official cult of martyrdom, memories of the war against Iraq and the exaltation of sacrifice, they just want to live and have fun," said Dariush, a university lecturer.

Youngsters have their favourite trendy places where they hang out, such as the Golestan shopping mall in the Shahrak-e-Qods in northwestern Tehran, where they'll find anything from fake or real designer clothes to the latest platform shoes.

Another favourite spot is the Capital Computer Complex in posh northern Tehran, a brand new mall offering the latest computer equipment and software.

But tough living conditions and simmering discontent are the order of the day among young people from less privileged backgrounds.

These are the second generation of the Mostazafan, the "disinherited" in whose name Khomeini called on people to rise and topple the Western-backed monarchy.

With unemployment rates running as high as 30 percent in some poor areas such as Islamshahr in southern Tehran, even scraping together a marriage dowry is a daunting challenge for many young people.

Marriage has indeed become a national headache for a country undergoing one of its toughest recessions, and has prompted special television programmes on the issue. Drugs are also increasingly used by the young here, a fact illustrated by the hauls regularly publicised by the authorities.

On the eve of official celebrations to mark the Islamic regime's 20th birthday, Iran's former middle-of-the-road president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has recognised that Iran's youth is now the main challenge facing the government.

"We should get the young generation acquainted with the Islamic revolution if we don't want to see their deviation" under Western influence, he said.


Copyright © 1997 Abadan Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. May not be duplicated or distributed in any form