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IRAN: Residents of Tehran give their thoughts on Arab protests and unrest

Story.bahrain.clashes What do residents of the Iranian capital think about the wave of uprisings and unrest in the Arab world that have toppled the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt and are continuing to rock countries such as Libya, Bahrain and Yemen?

The Times asked a number of people in the streets of Tehran about their thoughts on what's going on in the Arab world and what they think will be the outcome of the upheavals. The responses yielded an array of reactions and differing opinions.

However, the interviewees were unified when it came to Libya, agreeing that its leader, Moammar Kadafi, must go. Many also expressed concerns about protest-stricken Bahrain -- a neighboring country with a Shiite majority population, some of whom are loyal to Iran, but is ruled by a minority Sunni dynasty -- and said the government is cracking down heavily on the Shiite demonstrators.

Mozhgan Faraji, a 33-year-old Iranian journalist, said she felt that Western countries are paying much greater attention to the war in Libya than to the demonstrations and unrest in Bahrain and Yemen and wondered why that is the case.

"I am baffled," she told the Times. "Why on Earth are the Western powers not interested in the unrest in Yemen and Bahrain? Are human rights in Yemen and Bahrain not as important as in Libya ? Perhaps the Western countries are worried about the emerging revolutionary brand of Shiite in the region. But honestly, I am happy that the crazy leader of Libya is going to be toppled."

Ali Kakavwand, a 44-year-old professor of English linguistics, expressed concern about what he described as a clampdown on Shiite demonstrators in Bahrain and said there is a need to change the political dynamics in Syria, where the Assad family has been in power for many decades.

"I am very upset for the suppression and savage crackdown of my fellow Shiites in Bahrain," he told The Times. "I wish them to be able to have more share of power. I am also angry with Saudis for demolishing the shrines of our imams in Shiite-dominated area in Saudi Arabia.

But I have no stance concerning Yemen. I do not know who is right, who is wrong in Yemen. I believe the people of Syria also have a right to change their officials and leaders. The Assad family and the Baath Party are dominating the country for more than 50 years, so let's change the faces. I wish to see the toppling of Kadafi as soon as possible. He has been responsible for the vanishing of Imam Mosa Sadr."

Dokhi Sofi, a 48-year old housewife, said she is convinced that foreign plotters from the U.S. and Britain are orchestrating the Arab protests. She added that she thinks that as a result of Western sponsorship of the uprisings, Bahrain and Yemen are likely to be taken over by Islamists and become theocracies.

"I think Great Britain and the U.S. administration are behind the unrest in the region," she said. "They did the same with us 32 years ago and now the pro-U.S. and pro-U.K. are emerging in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. So the next regimes in these countries will be sort of Islamic. Like the Islamic Republic of Yemen or Bahrain."

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old real estate broker who only gave his name as Hasan said he is focusing on what is going on in Iran's close ally, Syria, where protests recently broke out. If change occurs in Syria, he reasoned, it will likely affect Iran in some way.

"I only focus on Syria, and I think that if there is change in Syria, there will be some impact here in Iran. The Syrian regime is the extended hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East. So I wish for a regime change or at least a multiparty system in Syria and deep reform. I do not care about other countries for the time being."

And 25-year-old Sasan, an engineering student at Tehran University, said he doesn't really care about politics and is focusing on work and play instead.

"I do not care about the uprisings in the regional countries as long as I have a well-paid job here in my country and can have fun now. I can have fun, and I have decently paid job. I do not give a damn about politics, whatever it is," he said. 

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Photo: Protesters in Bahrain look at a tear-gas canister fired by police during a demonstration near the capital on Feb. 14. Credit: Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (7)

so none of these interviewed gave any though to the fact;
The world sees their President as a NUT, dangerous and at some point must be brought down

Ramin, Thanks to the editors of LA times, my home town paper for censoring my two earlier comments regarding this report, I knew in this “free” American press like yours they will never get posted.


wow; Iranians can't understand why U.S. and Europe see evil in Lybia (moron swore he would murder everyone he didn't like) and why not Behrain or S. Arabia? Wel simple; the muslim world that is successful IGNORE 7th century voodoo and mulah madness like Bahrain, S. Arabia, Quatar, Egypt(up till month ago)... get it? Crazy (bring on the end of the world caliph pres. OddDimMad and crew not wanted!!!!!

May the Iranian Theocracy shake in their robes. The Iranians should be lucky because the Iranian Revolution is what started the Muslim World revolutions. The Era of the Autocrat is coming to end very quickly. Where ever in the world were an Enriched Government supresses the People to keep them Poor, they will fall. The Revolutions are not about Islam, they are not about Politics, but they are about survival of human beings. Why should People starve in poverty while their Governments live in a lavish wonderland? Congratulations should go out to the Muslim people of the world that are standing up for themselves, like the Chinese People will one day do. There is a direct correlation between entrenched wealth and their ability of purchase arms to supress the poor. Make the sale of Oil at $2 a gallon world-wide and there would be much, much less to fight about and that is the main reason for Middle East conflict: Money and Oil. You cannot remove the Oil, but you can remove the Evils of Money related to Oil. I am certain that Islam has a provision against Greed & Avarice and the supression of people. Jesus spoke of it, but the World has not listened, quite contrate, we are back to Roman times when the value of a life is determined in currency. When Oil becomes $2 a gallon until it ends, there will be no more Middle East problems of the sort. Let the UN declare a ban on Guns in the World and we can avert the catasrophe that humanity is creating. One Life is worth more than all the Wealth in the Planet to God. Let the Corporate Boardroom ponder that fact.


I take it they weren't the 4 or 5 pro-Israeli, Pro-USA, anti-Ahmadinejad, anti-islam answers you were gunning for , right?

Interview 4 or 5 people and this becomes a news report? Give me a break!

With all respect and support to the regions scream for freedom and democracy I like to express that I don't expect the movement or changes in the North Africa or the Middle East is to affects Iran.
Iran's historical and cultural values are a lot different from those in the Arab World. Iran started their revolution 100 years ago with the leadership of Mirzaye Shirazi and continued beyond the point of being affected at this time. We may say that it was Iran that finally affected the region to move.

Iran's revolution will evolve in a freedom and democracy that people of Iran are prepared for. Few glitches like Pahlavi ruling and then Islamic Republic government will only strengthen Iranian's will to create a bright future.


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