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Week 3 – Revolution Day – Part 3/4


Day 22, 11.2, Wednesday

February 11th is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. At 7am I got up and went with Anahit and another German student to Enghelab, to be part of the celebration/parade. The streets in Velenjak and Tajrish have never been this empty. Even the metro was quite empty. This changed when we reached the connecting station between the red (1) and yellow (4) line. The metros were fuller than during rush-hour in Moscow so I had to let the first metro go. It was impossible to get out at the two stations on the way to Enghelab. In Enghelab we waited for quite a time for Zhenya and a Dutch friend of the other German. While waiting at the entrance the first pictures of us were taken. When Anahit and Zhenya arrived and we joined the parade, the Dutch guy got cold feet and went home.
Last year three students were captured by police and everyone told us to be cautious, so I didn’t wear my yellow jacket. But how was the celebration like?
I would describe it a demonstration with the flair of a fair. Apparently the main fairground was the square around Azadi tower. I was there when everything was over after three hours. The students of last year were said to be there. From Azadi Avenue the people marched westbound towards the tower.
At the kerbside were many stands. They offered information, free food and drinks, choir sang, music was played or mullahs held speeches. You could get many different posters. Apart from the usual ones about USA and Israel, the slogans were “We resist forever”, “We stand to the end”, “Independence, Freedom – Islamic Republic”, “Dead or Khomeini – written with my own blood”, “I am the revolution”, “I love Mohammed. I hate terrorism, I condemn insulting the holy prophets” as well as pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei and of course the Iranian flag. Since it was a rainy day, the main function of the posters soon started being rain coverages. From time to time you could hear “Marg bar Amerika/Israel”, but more often “Allah u akbar” or something related with Khomeini; though surprisingly seldom. The people didn’t dress more conservative than usual, even some women’s hair could be seen. There were many families. In general it was a bizarre sight. Often in front of same stands offering food or drinks for fee tumults started. As if the great duo Khomeini/Khamenei couldn’t feed their people – like Kim Jong Un, but concerning this topic maybe later…
A few times photographers but especially youths took pictures of us.
And what should one think about all this? In my opinion this event has several aspects. First it should secure the power of the leader with the help of the public proclamation and reminder of their enemies USA, Israel and the West in general. They appeal for resistance, resisting, they call upon the power endurance of the people to overcome the temptations of the West. They, and only they, are able to lead safe and to their satisfaction through these hard times.
But the bait has already been taken: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nestle, Danone, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have won the hearts of many Iranians. For them, if they participate, the celebration is a possibility to “party”. They don’t care about slogans and posters, don’t give them any importance. Now the second aspects becomes visible: It’s like a football fanfest (I have always been on the ones in Berlin). The opponent is insulted badly as well, even without any reason:

“[country] is shitty, [country] is scum; it only needs one little bomb and they are gone.” and for sure there are more

Most of the people sing it, but no-one would honestly consider to wipe them out. Most important is team spirit, some teasing when the enemy is in the defence and having a huge party that of course involves the opponent fans. Apart from some idiots the party is peaceful (naturally as long as the German team is winning. Otherwise the number of idiots increases).
Just for a few times we were looked at oddly, the other times either ignored or smiled at. One situation was funny, when a man welcomes me in Iran, because the celebration doesn’t show the “real” Iran at all but critics are able to find enough arguments to demonize the country and its apparently fanatic people.
Although I want to mention, that I’m not agreeing with “Death to America/Israel” slogans even if it’s not meant to happen to the people. I mostly disagree with their foreign policy, too. Though as memory I couldn’t resist to take one poster home.

In the end I took the taxi home, since it still rained and I met Anahit by chance. It was only 13000 Rial (32 Euro cents) and may have change my picture of going by taxi can only be expensive.


This is what critics want to hear (I don’t know, what he’s saying, but it sounds menacing and hardline religious):

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Week 3 – Part 2/4


Day 17, 6.2, Friday

Mostly, we relaxed of the hiking and I spent much time updating my blog. In the afternoon, I had an appointment with Zari and Saba in Café of ASP building. Roman had an appointment there as well, so we both went together. But due to the heavy traffic, I arrived one hour late.
On the way home I talked on the phone with Karlsruhe, so though the late hour I didn’t take the bus to the connecting station. When I arrived there at 22.30, the last bus to Velenjak was already gone. I didn’t want to take a taxi so I went by foot. In total I took me two hours to get home. And I still had to do homework so at 1am I finally went to bed.

Day 18, 7.2, Saturday

I still feel the hiking. Roman and I went shopping on our way home and I finally managed to begin to digitse part of the Farsi vocab. In addition I finished work for Karlsruhe so I was up till 1am again.

Day 19, 8.2, Sunday

School, bazaar, homework, at 1am to bed

Day 20, 9.2, Monday

I didn’t do my reading homework, because digitising was more important to me. So at class I stammered like hell and had to repeat the homework.
Due to having changed money, I got a million Rial note.
After class I went to the American embassy again. I was 50 minutes early with some others so we went for a sandwich (I took falafel with cheese for 1,30€).
At the embassy we got a guide and a kind Danish with Iranian roots translated. The ground floor was used for and by normal embassy stuff and staff, but the first floor was the heart of espionage of the CIA. Pictures of people, that were meant to be killed by the US and its allys during the Iraq-Iran war asking for truth, were hanging in the corridor.
During the introduction the guide mentioned that the movie “Argo” would be nonsense approved by the Canadian ambassador and his wife. The truth is, the Canadian ambassador only criticized the downplaying of his effort, not the content itself. Although the success would have been 90% Canada’s labour and only 10% of the CIA, the movie would show the opposite. Only the wife of the ambassador mentioned it would have been better to declare the movie being based on a true case than declaring it completely true.
We were shown the rooms: soundproof meeting rooms, rooms with reinforced doors to communicate with the headquarters and receive orders, rooms to fake passports and other documents.

The time of the shah was over in February 1979. The Iranians didn’t want to be oppressed by a leader that would follow imperialists and especially in the end beat down the opposition (clerics) brutally. They didn’t want to live in a dictatorship. That the Islamic Repbulic with its Supreme Leader (currently Ayatollah Khamenei) can be considered a dictatorship as well, is not mentioned. The members of the parliament and the president himself can be voted by the Iranian people of a list that has been approved by the Guardian Council. The members of this council are appointed by the already selected members of the parliament and the Supreme Leader. He is appointed by the Assembly of Experts, that consists of mullahs, who are vetted by the Guardian Council and who are then “elected” by the people. To make a long story short: The Supreme Leader, his leadership circle and vassals can appoint what the parliament and the president do. They survey themselves, command the army, the constitutional court and in addition have a second army of followers that secures their power. In public, their decisions are rarely discussed.

In November 1979 the US embassy was bursted by Khomeini friendly students and hostages were held for 444 days. Coloured people and women were released soon, but high-ranked employees and CIA members were still captured. Though they would have been treated very well with e.g. high quality food from other embassies whereas the students only ate normal food. Even a Christmas celebration was held.
Of course we were told about the Iraq-Iran war ind the early 80s. The Iraqis under US implemented leadership of Saddam Hussein wanted to use the seeming weakness of the Islamic revolution to occupy oil-rich territory and coast. But thanks to Khomeini’s leadership and Allah, who for sure fought for the Iraqis as well…, the Iranians didn’t loose territory but strengthened mentally, but with many casualties, having made head against Iraq and western supporters. Apparently chemicals weapons came from Germany, mines from Belgium, jets from France and underground hangars were built by Italians. Nobody seemed to be on Iran’s side. But revange for crimes against Iranian civilians was forbidden by merciful Khomeini. Instead it is said he let children and teenagers clean mine field on foot and told them they’ll die as martyrs (these victims may be shown on the pictures in the corridor as well).
After all the hostilities and sanctions, now-a-days due to peaceful use of nuclear energy, although many countries including North Korea and Pakistan even have nuclear weapons, the shouting “Down/Death with/to America/Israel” is not against the people but an exaggerated desire for new politics and governments. The greetings at Iranian New Year of President Obama in 2014 (and surely in 2015 again) are worth nothing, considering the hardened sanctions and military threats.

Day 21, 10.2, Tuesday

Since on Wednesday the Islamic Revolution is celebrated it is the last day of the school for this week. I didn’t do anything.
In the evening I could get a preview of the things that may happen tomorrow: At 9pm Iranian students for their dorms just opposite were shouting in a chorus: “Allah u akbar”, “Marg bar amerika” and “Marg bar Israel”. (It’s often translated as “Down with USA/Israel” but “marg” means literally “death”) In the background fireworks were lighten the sky of Tehran. It has been quite an absurd picture, but didn’t lower my excitement for the next day’s parade. Although last year three students were captured by police.

#By the way: The normal public buses are separated. One part is for men only, the other for women only. In smaller buses, like the ones I go to school with, which are like the big Mercedes vans this separation doesn’t exist. In the metro there are two parts for women only: at the front and at the end. They can enter everywhere else though. This is an advantage for them in my opinion. During rush our, the mixed parts are always completely full. In the ones of the women there is always enough space.
Let’s stay at the metro. The stairs, as I already wrote, are hardly used and people look weirdly if you do so. Sometimes there are even queues in front of the escalators. Fun starts, when the escalators start working. The people seem to be in such bad physical shape, that even a difference of 5 metres height causes them to gasp heavily.
I learned my first swearword: “an”. It means shit and is also an abbreviation of AhmadiNejad.

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Week 2 – Part 2/2


Day 13, 2.2, Monday

Together with Anahit, Zhihui and two other Russians (Zhenya and Alexander) I went to the former American embassy by metro to take some photos and visit the museum. It is open only one time a year: During a ten day period before revolution day (11th February). We were able to take photos, but the entrance fee of 7USD or 1 mio Rial (which is apparently 29USD) couldn’t be paid, since we didn’t have any dollars with us.
So we went eating and strolled around. First to a Zoroastrian temple, which was closed and then to an Armenian church. It was also closed due to renovation. So we continued, passed the Russian embassy which can be found on a gigantic park area.
Then we went to the Armenian Club, where alcohol can be consumed. Passing an art gallery, where a famous actress was present, too, we went to a shop where Zhihui bought a traditional Baluch (Baluchistan is the border region between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, so a very safe area).

Day 14, 3.2, Tuesday

Tuesday was a boring day. I don’t know any more what I did. Everyday life stuff, I guess. Roman and I tried a new route to the dorm which led through a long park.

Day 15, 4.2, Wednesday

In the morning the smog dome that covers Tehran nearly daily was clearly visible.
After class I took the metro to the south east to an airport which I thought was unused. But I had to notice that on the contrary it is the base of the Iranian Airforce, so strolling around was not really possible.
In the evening I accepted being interviewed. I hadn’t had any information about it; it was supposed to be a project of Iranian students. The first question about us were masquerade and the main topic was Islam and violence. One of the questions was how our view of Islam changed, now being in Iran and how it has been beforehand. Me and a German female student were the only ones who participated.
In the end we should read A Letter 4 U of the religious Leader of the Islamic Republic Iran . I’m sure the film is used as propaganda material, but I cannot deny that I don’t totally disagree with the complete letter.
In addition we got a rose as thank you which is such a nice gift I would have said every propaganda sentence for. I’m really curious about the final documentary. Depending on the result, I’ll upload it.