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A slightly rambling set of observations on real Iranian lives

Observer - Iran's young women find private path to freedom

The rules of the coffee houses - in comparison with the street - reflect the fundamental division in Iran. It is not the divide between the 'Reforms' and the 'Principalists' of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who competed for Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday. For many of the young, including Mehdi and Shareh, those elections represented an increasingly irrelevant distinction in a clerical system they feel is stacked in favour of itself. Instead, the division is between what Iranians do and say in private, or in places where they feel comfortable, and how they are forced to behave in public.

The inevitable tension between the two is defining the boundaries of the country's culture wars. For it is here, rather than in the polling booths, that Iran's most crucial competition is taking place - over the limits of what is acceptable self-expression. It is the struggle to push the boundaries of freedom in Iran..........................

And what is holding back greater pressure for a more organised change - for a confrontation with a system that many reject - is that the different communities of interest in Iran have not learnt how to break out of their private networks and connect.

'We are not used to having connections. Each small group is like an island with its own private ethics. The only real connection that the younger generation have here is to the outside via satellite television. And unfortunately that is a fake connection,' he said sadly. 'It is an illusory idea of how people live in the outside world.'

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 16th, 2008 at 12:18:38 PM EST

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