Friday, August 27, 2010

Iran from inside

Mailul de mai jos e primit de la un prieten din Iran. Baiatul e cercetator specializat in Artificial Intelligence, s-a casatorit de curand, dar e foarte deprimat pentru ca nu-si poate gasi un loc de munca. O parte din mail-ul lui l-a publicat si NOW Lebanon. Mai jos gasiti e varianta ne-editata. ( Sa-mi spuneti daca aveti o senzatie de deja vu.)



My uncle used to be a fan of the Islamic Revolution. He always took part in rallies and we used to have arguments about it. He was a passionate advocate for Islam and Imam Khomeini. Once he was even angry with the astronauts and he was serious about it because he believed that he could see Imam Khomeini’s face on moon. “How can the astronauts on the moon go to bathroom on the face of the Imam?” he used to say.  

We still have the conversations, but my uncle is not the same passionate advocate of the Revolution. Because of the Iranian government’s oppressive methods and the lack of freedom in the country, the image of Islam in Iran is losing ground. When lied to their faces about corruption, people are starting to have doubts.

They say that under the flag of Islam all of us are equal. But they seem to think that some people are “more equal” than others. Nobody can be a politician or access any high ranking position without the confirmation of the intelligence services.  

Therefore, you need a clean file. Attending Basij paramilitary militia meetings and Friday prayers and wearing a beard are vital requirements if you want to pass the intelligence service loyalty test and become a politician. You need to parade yourself as a zealous fan of the supreme leader, become friends with the “brothers” and enroll in organizations linked to the Basij. They never ask you about your studies or your talents, just about your loyalty to the Supreme Leader. Not long ago, if one of your relatives was a martyr of the Islamic Revolution, used to bring privileges and help you in a political career.  But that is not an asset anymore.

But it seems that the sacrifices you have to make in your youth pay off later. I visited a rich friend of mine in north of Iran a while ago. He lives in a so- called “protected city”, where all his neighbors are state officials. That’s how I witnessed for the first time the life of the establishment. Most of the castle-like buildings in my friend’s neighborhood belonged to famous mullahs, but all had dancing rooms and held parties, my friend told me. Many of these houses had cars worth over 200 thousand dollars at the front door. The religious figures are well known to have many wives: four of them are permanent, as the law requires, but many more are sighe or temporary wives they only marry for sex.

Prostitution is also a present phenomenon on the streets of Tehran. Last year, the government started a program to remove the prostitutes from streets. The person in charge of the operation was police general Sardar Zarei. A month after, he was arrested after being caught with 6 women. Apparently he was ordering them to pray naked. The media outlets which published the news were “silenced”.

In the meantime, the really talented brains in Iran are going to waste. They lie every day on the controlled state media about the progress of young scientists in country, that Iran is one of the few countries in the world that have such wonderful brains. But anyone who has studied in famous fschools such as Sharif or Tehran Universities knows what really happens to talented people: they leave Iran.

You need only to Google the names of the Iranian winners in international science contests and you will find them in the United States or Canada. They know that if they stay in Iran, they would be struggling with getting food on the table. To get a good job in Iran, you don’t need a diploma, you only need connections. With no connections in the establishment, you have no option. No voice to protest, no freedom either. And eventually you are forced to accept anything just to make enough money to feed your family.

This happens while so-called university professors accused of plagiarism in their published works become ministers in the Tehran cabinet. On September 22, 2009, a prominent British magazine found out that the current minister of Science, Research and Technology, Kamran Daneshjo, copied large chunks of text, figures, and tables from a 2002 paper published by a South Korean researcher. His PhD was also disputed by blogs in Iran. But nobody seemed to care about it. He is still a government minister.

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