It just takes time.


It just takes time.
by Niloufar Parsi

I was (rather bravely) going to attempt to write a blog on the structural causes for the lack of democracy in Iran, but then I came across this letter from Ellie & Ardeshir in Shiraz, and read through a particularly acrimonious and at times quite humorous set of comments. Then I realised that I could not easily fit into any of the 2 opposing camps there.

Yes, Ellie & Ardeshir sound ecstatic about being back home. But then I know I wouldn’t go back just yet. And I know exactly why.

I was there for around 3 years in the mid-90s. I had gone back to see if I could live there for the first time since my parents took us to England in 1978. Nothing political about my family. We just happened to leave before the waves of mass emigration started. I didn’t even have a clue that a revolution was coming! But then just less than 20 years later, there I was back ‘home’. But exile does things to your perception.

It looked totally oppressive. But everyone told me that things were much better than a few years earlier. Still, you had to dress this way and not that. Walk this way and not that. Look serious and unhappy in public or get ready to pay the price. Don’t trust this or that. Answer to stupid basiji thugs, and respectfully too! Don’t talk this way, and certainly don’t write anything that would actually make a difference. And for heaven’s sake shut up about being an atheist. Islam, islam, islam. Hands up: tasleem. And then there was that month when all of this became so exaggerated and unbearable that you weren’t even allowed to drink water in daylight without expecting some kind of punishment, however mild: yes, that ugly stupid month of Ramezan.

No I don’t mean to insult our religious readers here. I honestly respect other people’s spiritual beliefs, but why force me to follow others’ beliefs in my own ‘home’? Oh I know. It’s been going on for centuries. Not the regime’s fault really. That is true. I know. But exile does things to your level of tolerance for ‘your own’ tradition.

Of course the upside was there too. Just like Ellie & Ardeshir in Shiraz , I loved it too. The warmth, colours, aroma and feel of ‘home’. The long lost mass of family all over the country and their love. Shomal, Skiing, Darband, Kolak Chal, Chaqaleh badoom, Laboo, Esfehan, Gorgan, Yazd, Shiraz, Kish… that incredible and energetic sense of humour. Grandma’s tomb. Father’s home village. Cousins who had abruptly transformed into parents with spouses I had never met. Shared heritage.

But I had to leave despite a decent job and a loving family and Khatami’s election and all the genuine optimism around it. The reason? Suffocation. The same sense of ‘justice’ and ‘inalienable rights’ that makes Iran stand up to imperialism so well. I could not stand not being myself anymore. Over the three-year period, I realised more and more that I would probably end up in prison if I did not leave because I would have had to stand up to the system eventually, but there weren’t enough of us who wanted the same.

From there I embarked on a career that took me to many countries. No point being bitter with a system that reflects longstanding traditions. And from what I have seen through the years, Iran is far from being the worst case around. On the contrary, it has a bright future. It just takes time.


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Niloufar Parsi

desideratum, LOL, abarmard

by Niloufar Parsi on

thanks for the kind responses doostan. 'keep hope alive'? :) 

Niloufar Parsi

anonymous fish

by Niloufar Parsi on

glad i finally struck a cord with you :) if i remember right, i did say to you a while back that we have more in common than it may seem.

i used to let the name calling get to me here, but it comes with the territory especially in the political discussions. it's just like water off my back now. i think we all have more important things to do than engage in hateful rhetoric.

Love & Peace!

Niloufar Parsi

disgusted person

by Niloufar Parsi on

i really cannot decide whether i was being so 'full of myself' there. perhaps you are right. but then how does one write about one's personal experience (and in this case, in comparison to the experience of others mentioned in the blog) without talking about oneself?

but if i was here to only talk about 'myself' then i would hardly ever defend the rights of iran's current government. on the contrary, i often get accused of being an IRI apologist. 

btw, those basijis really are ABSOLUTE thugs. just like the fascist skinheads of England who landed me in hospital a couple of times. i AM better than both those types. hope you are too.


Dear Niloufar

by Abarmard on

Very sincere piece. I absolutely agree with you, we are not done in our path yet and I also see a bright future.

My guess is that the dress code would vanish in the next couple of elections (fingers crossed). Laws are certainly more unfair to the women than man but I have no doubt that they will change.

Iranian changes since the revolution reminds me of the story of the rabbit and the turtle. The slower steps for the future Iran is better. There are no quick fixes and self reliance would certainly work on behave of the people, specially in the long run.

Thank you for the enjoyable read.

anonymous fish


by anonymous fish on

it's not often that i agree with niloufar but i'm surprised at some of the comments.  i don't see a "better than them" attitude at all.  i see a very simple and heartfelt emotion expressed and most of all, hope FOR the future.  oh well.


You're not so much better than them

by Disgusted (not verified) on

It always disgusts me to read a piece like this where the writer has the assumption that she is better than others. The writer seems to think that if she knows and understands democracy, if she understands human rights and freedom of speech, religion, etc, it is because she is so smart or so much better than others. No my friend, at least part of the reason is that you were raised in a more conducive environment. It isn't all because you are such an amazing gal. You didn't figure it all out by yourself.

Realize that part of the reason people in the West can afford "modern life" is because some Westerners have been looting those "disgusting people" for years and giving part of the loot to the likes of your family, to keep your mouth shut! Those disgusting Basiji are partly the reason the likes of you are now able to feel superior.

Your attitude towards them is like an elephant who steps on a small shrub and says, "Stupid shrub!" and is completely ignorant that the shrub is part of the reason the elephant has such a massive and impressive body. Those Basijis and uneducated Muslims have supported you and your family in the hopes that you will find a way to help them. Instead you go back and laugh at them and their lifestyle.

I am not saying you should praise their lifestyle or that you should not take any action. What I am saying is stop being so full of yourself and realize that they are your roots, family (even if distant) and in short people that you love despite temporary current hatred. If an earthquake took all their lives today, would you become happy or sad? So stop pretending like you don't care about them and stop acting like you are so much better than them and roll up your sleeves and with a little love, reach for them. They need your help not your scorn.


To Niloufar

by LOL (not verified) on

Right on Niloufar jaan. But I think Iran's future will be even brighter if they start boycotting oranges made in Israel not when they are made in China.

desideratum.anthropomorphized anonymous000

Honest, blunt, and refreshing

by desideratum.anthropomorph... on

It takes a lot of insight to see the promising future despite all odds for Iran while not actually living inside the country and dealing with day-to-day struggles and small joys of victory on the ground of the young men and women who are the minds behind any progress. Your foresight must be applauded.


Height of demagoguery

by Fred on

With the same type of lefty logic one could reason while Commie Khmere Rouge were at it full force, the Iraqi Kurds under Saddam should have called it quits for they were better off than Cambodians. 

 This pie in the sky attitude of the triumvirate where they continuously kick the can down the historical road is the height of demagoguery. More so when one of them openly admit to the existence of suffocating tyranny in the Islamist republic.

But since the Islamist republic is doing a bang-up job “standing up to imperialism” and it is the enslaved Iranians who have to bear the load while this particular lefty is globetrotting—well, Iran “ on the contrary, it has a bright future. It just takes time.”


ko ta amre be maaroof and

by kofri (not verified) on

ko ta amre be maaroof and nahey az monkar bereh onjee ke jash hast. "it just take time" omidvaram ke ma be cheshmemoon bebenim.