A few days ago we arrived with our security guards in Qom, its a city in Iran that sees very few foreigners.
We come to see the real cost of religious rule, and Qom truly highlights these costs, we chose this city since its apparently has the highest number of Shi’a scholarships in the world. 50,000 seminarians in the city from 70 countries apparently.
They claim that most of the seminaries teach their students modern social sciences and western thought as well as traditional religious studies.
Now we arrived and with a simple idea “lets have a looks’i shall we?”
Now i wont go into the generic lunacy of Iran like the fact that they still export the same things they did before the Islamic revolution etc. I planned to look at the reality on the ground, how do ordinary people live from high society to the middle class to the poor.
I am trying to go into this with an open mind, i must admit that its not easy for me, but i will do my best.
Yesterday we met with some students from upper class families.
Apparently the post revolutionary upper classes consisted of some of the same elements as the old elite, having retained at least part of their wealth. Many of them have emigrated to other countries taking their resources with them, since political power was moved from skilled resourceful people to clerics where religious expertise and piety became the major criteria for belonging to the political elite.
On first reflection even though Iran is bad i am surprised it isnt even worse considering that their country is guided by ancient fables and fairy tales.
Now my talks with the upper class explains why this country manages to exist at all, the answer is money and this money comes from oil.
No one i talked to had any illusions that if they ran out of oil the country would turn itself inside out, probably drenched in blood and violence.
Now the clerics are smart enough to know that the economic elites well being is vital for their survival, thus they get special treatment, corruption is extreme and public works like roads etc are handed out to the economic elite.
Thus they scratch each others back keeping themselves on the gravy train in a sea of poverty and suffering.
Most upper class people where sent abroad to the vest to study and they lived although not in public Western lives, they smoke pot, drink, party prostitution and teens are having copious amounts of pre marrital sex.
They knew they where living a lie but they dont care as long as their privileged lifestyle is secured by the dictatorial clerical rulers.
They took great pride in just having to make a phone call if the religious police bothered them for example and they would be left alone.
I think in Iran you can pretty much rule out equality before the law, in fact rule out any form of equality at all.
The women we talked to spoke of how they dreamed of settling in the vest where they could go wherever they wanted without being chaperoned by a male relative and they all dreamed of not having to cover up in public.
One girl cried for almost an hour when she saw a stoning being broadcast on tv while recalling how much she missed her time studying in france, where she could do and say whetever she wanted.
The brutality of this society is frightening, life isnt worth anything, i am left speechless, i just cannot describe what it feels like to see someone berried to their neck being stoned to death by a mob.
My wife got sick from the entire experience and she wants to go home. … i dont know yet. I will spend a few days contemplating what we to do next…