Signs of the Time

Taking a trip through Iran in May, 2009.

by Scott Bohlinger

[Foaad Khosmood: I first met Scott Bohlinger at the 2006 Iran Future Prospects Conference, hosted by Dr. Abbas Milani at Stanford University. He made an impressive presentation. Even more impressive was his extensive knowledge of the Middle East and his spoken Persian skills. It was a shock to hear such decent Persian coming out of a blond-haired Californian who had never been to the region! Currently in Northern Afghanistan working as a security analyst for an NGO, Scott took a field trip through Iran in May, and snapped up a few pictures. Because of the Internet conditions of where he's at, he wasn't able to send too many but these are real nice. He has also provided great descriptions. You can click on the pictures to see them. ]

Scott writes:

The aesthetic of the revolution was extremely advanced in terms of political iconography and that tradition carries forward for today, with even the most bland state-sponsored messages presented in a surprisingly engaging way that manages not to insult your intelligence. The samples here are limited by the fact that I left on the 25th (Ahmadinezhad hadn't felt the need to put up any posters by then) and the curiosity of policemen as to what I was up to. They were nice enough and the US does support terrorism in Iran so I snapped less than I would have liked to.

Visit Scott's Blog: The Global Californian.


Recently by Scott BohlingerCommentsDate
A bit everywhere
Jun 29, 2011
The Islamic Republic's 'Rastakhiz' Moment?
Mar 15, 2011
more from Scott Bohlinger

The "laam" is odd looking,

by Anonymoses on

The "laam" is odd looking, but the "zeh" is pretty clear and put into context the "lah" appears. :)

Nonetheless fantastic photos and descriptions, and picking up on subtleties that I think only people immersed in the culture might.


Correction on photo #10

by Scott Bohlinger (not verified) on

Thanks to all of you who have corrected my translation of the writing on the fly in #10. The word probably should read lahzeh instead of sakhat, but it's a very odd angle for a laam in printed nastaliq.



by Prof. Dr. Hassan Abol Danesh (not verified) on

...don't forget is the "Islamic Republic" not Republic, Federal, or Imperial government and therefore people should watch carefully all the candidates to see CONTINUOUSLY:

Whether or not they pray five times a day toward macca (proof)

whether or not they go on fasting the full month during the month of ramadan (proof)

whehter or not they "khoms" and "Zakat" in the exat amount (proof)!

whether or not go on pilgrimage for macca and madina (hard evidence)

Etc., etc., etc.

Don't forget! First thing first! For this is business! And the big brother is watching you all the time...

And when there are enough lapses ... the big brother will classify you as a member of bahai faith and not the muslim one--

17? Kabba?



by Anonymoses on

For photo #10

The writer writes: (Until the final frustration (sakhat: odd word choice) we shall halt and uphold our results to God.) 

Isn't it LAHZEH (what's written on the poster?) meaning MOMENT? 


Unoffical Presidential Poll

by IranElection (not verified) on

Dear Mr Bohlinger,

Thank You for your wonderful photographs and your interesting and perceptive commentary.

I would like to invite you and the readers of to take a moment to visit our website and cast your votes for President. Here is the address:


This poll is not scientific of course but can help discover true public sentiment before the real election take place. Please do invite your friends to participate as well. Thank You again for your photos and description of your trip to Iran.


To halt the Islamic Regime's

by Meehan (not verified) on

To halt the Islamic Regime's support for terrorism and occupation of Iran by Hezollah and serious international security problems it has caused
in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world,the Iranian nation must be unified.

free your country from terrorist occupation.
free Iran.

Kourosh Aryamanesh

To Humbled

by Kourosh Aryamanesh on

استاد، شما ماشالله خيلی جرأت داری که اسم اون ملعون رو آوردی . تازه بد و بيراه هم بهش نگفتی. ما يک چيزی راجع به رأی دادن و اوضاع انتخابات ايران نوشتيم که يکی اومد گفت ما شاهی هستيم . متعجبم چطورهنوز پاچۀ شما رو نگرفتن . تازه آخرش هم يک متلکی به رفسنجانی انداختی که اون خودش مجازات شلاق داره.


Thank you Foaad


Interesting photoes and commentaries!  


Great photos - but awesome description

by Mehdi on

I really enjoyed the viewpoints expressed under each photo - very refreshing. My favorites:

"Traffic in Tehran lived up to expectations. This is the Hemmat Freeway at 9pm. Driving also seemed to be last hold out of "being third world" left in what is otherwise just another European country. At one point near Natanz my guide insisted on making a turn off the freeway into the bush instead of going 500m to the exit.

"Iran's freeways put the US to shame. I definitely had a moment here where I felt I could be going to Vegas along I-15. And like half the people going to Vegas, everyone speaks Persian!

"The geographical setting of the city was stunning and, like its inhabitants, comparable to Los Angeles. All of Iran is great, but Tehran has to compete with Bombay, London, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for the status of a great world city. No I'm not impressed by New York."



How modest the Shah's bedroom looks

by Humbled (not verified) on

Comparing what I saw at Versailles to the Shah's bedroom, I can honestly say that the guy lived quite modestly! and they were saying back then he was living in ultimate luxury, 24 karat gold and precious jewels everywhere while poor people of Iran were suffering living in shacks!

Wish one day one could one of Rafsanjani's bedrooms.

Nazy Kaviani

Thank you

by Nazy Kaviani on

An excellent photo essay, with keen and surprisingly accurate observations for someone who traveled to Iran for the first time. I enjoyed the thorough photo descriptions and related observations, as well as Mr. Bohlinger's subtle sense of humor! Thank you for sharing.


Logical that the system wants Mir Hussein Moussavi as Prez

by STATUS QUO maintained (not verified) on

Somebody among the IRI establishment said a couple of weeks ago that Moussavi is just like Ahamdinejad but OTOOKESHIDEH ... the most he will do is to polish up on IRI's image abroad

Karrubi's and Rezaii's claims for their intended domestic programs sound a hell of a lot more liberal than this Moussavi guy's but he seems to be able to manage to maintain the status quo much better (as Khamenei wants) than the other two.

Ahmadinejad is out any way.