You hear that Iran has sentenced a female activist to a year in prison for attending a men’s volleyball game, and it seems like the same old, a country trapped in oppressive patriarchy and backwardness. But there are some hopeful signs, both with negotiations over nukes at the top and in life below the surface. It’s hard to trust but equally difficult to completely turn away. From “The Revolution Is Over” in the Economist:
“For now, Iran is disliked and mistrusted across much of the democratic world. Terrible things have been done in the name of its revolution. Some of its leaders have denied the Holocaust. They have locked up and tortured citizens who dared to challenge them openly. The country really could be set on having a bomb. But while the world has been cut off from Iran, it has failed to notice how much Iranians have changed. No longer is the country seething with hatred and bent on destruction. Instead, the revolution has sunk into the disillusion and distractions of middle age. This is not always a nice place, perhaps, but not a Satanic one, either.
To be sure, Iran is hard to fathom. It often makes visitors feel unwelcome. Journalists who have been able to obtain a precious visa still leave with a sense of uncertainty as few Iranians feel free to speak their mind. For years the government even refused to share information with the World Bank. John Limbert, an American diplomat held hostage in Tehran in 1979 who served his country until 2010, points out that ‘almost nobody in Washington has been to Iran in decades.’
Yet the country has unmistakably changed. The regime may remain suspicious of the West, and drone on about seeding revolutions in oppressor countries, but the revolutionary fervour and drab conformism have gone. Iran is desperate to trade with whomever will buy its oil. Globalisation trumps puritanism even here.”
Iran just 35 years ago: