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Do's and don'ts
World War II guide for Americans in Iran

January 11, 2001
The Iranian

From Pocket Guide to Iran published in 1943 by U.S. War and Navy Departments for American servicemen in World War II. Thousands of American troops were based in Iran during the war as part of a joint effort with the British to send vital military supplies to Russia, which was defending itself against Hitler's army. Many thanks to Ramin Tabib for sending this guide >>> table of contents


Respect the Iranis as men and as soldiers; recognize that their way of life is as right and natural for them as yours is for you.

Expect to bargain for your purchase and always arrive at a price before accepting any goods or services whatsoever.

Always wash your hands before eating, and say "Bismillah" if Moslems are present.

Respect Moslems at prayer.

Keep any dogs of your own away from mosques and from Moslem homes.

Drink water only as hot tea or after boiling.

In general, take your cues on manners from the Iranis and remember that your mission may fail if you make enemies of them.

Don't try to tell Iranis how much better everything is in the United States. They think most things are better in Iran.

Don't discuss religion.

Don't discuss politics.

Don't enter mosques unless you are invited and escorted there by a Moslem.

Don't offer an Irani liquor or drink it in front of him.

Don't offer an Irani pork in any form: bacon, sausage, or food cooked in lard.

Don't touch or jostle Irani men; even those you know quite well will resent it.

Don't touch a respectable Irani woman, or even look at one unnecessarily.

Don't strike an Irani.

Don't threaten Iranis; use persuasion, explanation, and rewards to get things done.

Don't expose your body in the presence of an Irani.

Don't mistake courtesy for friendship; an Irani is always polite, but he is fundamentally suspicious of foreigners.

Don't expect definite future commitments; when an Irani says "now" he means "this very hour"; when he says FAR-DAH (tomorrow) he means "sometime in the future."

Don't expect definite knowledge of distances from country men; they travel little and have never learned to use numbers (except very small ones) with any exactness.

Don't ridicule or criticize the Iranis in English in public places. Some know English quite as well as you do.

Above all, use common sense on all occasions. And remember that every American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will >>> Guide table of contents

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Pocket Guide to Iran
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