Introduction Iran is located in Western Asia, populated by 78 million farsi speaking people. Its capital city is Tehran and its official religion is Islam. It became one of the leading powers in 224 AD as the Persian empire. In 1979, the Islamic Revolution lead the Reza Pahlavi (the Shah) to flee the country and have Ruhollah Khomeini take his place. After a referendum, Iran officially became an Islamic Republic. Its current political system has elements of parliamentary democracy and theocracy, where the Supreme Leader holds the greatest power.
Week Two In 2009, the majority of Iran’s citizens felt that the their voter outcome was tampered with, since the leading candidate ended up in second place with only 33% of the votes. However, current President Hassan Rouhani has improved Iran’s relations with other countries. ( http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/05/201351661225981675.html )
Week Three Slave trade was common under the Qajar dynasty and it wasn’t until 1929 that an anti-slavery bill was passed. Thus, it was officially abolished under Reza Shah’s rule through the Iranian National Parliament. ( http://15minutehistory.org/2015/08/26/episode-70-race-slavery-abolition-in-iran/ )
Week Four Iranian women have been forced under a mandatory hijab for 36 years. Under the last president’s rule, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, women were treated with excessive punishments if they somehow violated dress codes. Many revolutionists believe that this oppression of women’s clothing is intended to distract citizens from speaking up against other issues like corruption and the economy. ( http://www.mantlethought.org/international-affairs/confronting-modesty-feminism-iran )
Week Five Statistics of 2013 state that women only make up 5% of the total workforce in manufacturers and factories. This is largely because the rights for women workers has been neglected. A study published by Yazd University students reveal that over 50% of the workers in rug-weaving shops are girls under the age of 16 that work between 12-16 hours a day. These workers deal with least 10 different kinds of health conditions due to horrible work conditions. ( http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/iran-women-factory-workers-face-discrimination.html# )
Week Six Ashoura is one of the most holy days for Shia Muslims commemorating the martyr of the prophet Mohammad's grandson, so it is expected that no violence is inflicted on this day. Despite this, on December 27th 2009, government forces opened fire on peaceful protesters which resulted in death and arrest of many civilians. (http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/green-movement)
Week Seven Following the tampered with 2009 elections in Iran, former presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, were sentenced to 4 years of house arrest. The Executive Director of the International Campaign for Human Rights In Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, said that this arrest was out of fear. The candidates had first-hand experience with the violation of rights in Iran and they had the power to reveal and remind Iranians of all the ways the government exploits them. They were just dangerous megaphones that the government had to somehow silence. (http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2014/12/karroubi-motahari/)
Week Eight This is a part of a speech given by Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former presidential candidate, to his supporters during a rally in Tehrano on the 18th of June. I chose this specifically because it ties into the texts we read written by Malcom X and MLK Jr. "I have come to represent the poor, the helpless, and the hungry. I have come to be accountable to you, my people, and to this world. Iran must participate in fair elections. It is a matter of national importance. I have come to you because of the corruption in Iran. 25% inflation means ignorance, thieving and corruption" (Mousavi). (http://www.enduringamerica.com/june-2009/2009/6/19/text-mousavi-speech-to-tehran-rally-18-june.html)
Week Nine Every since Iran was under the rule of a Islamic theocratic government (1979), young people have been participating in a self-proclaimed and un-public sexual revolution. The stakes of doing simple things that westerners do freely, like going on dates, partying, drinking, having sex out of wedlock, etc. is very high since it is all illegal. Harsh punishments have been implemented, such as 70+ lashes, or even public execution. Despite this, the youth are making political and social statements using their bodies. However, this conservative censorship on anything that is sexually related has lead to an increase in abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and emotional distress. The public is oppressed and the kids are not educated in having healthy safe sex and using contraceptives at the age where they are experimenting. (http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=15943)
Week Ten Article 19 in the Iranian Constitution asserts: "All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; colour, race, language and the like, do not bestow any privilege". But, minority languages are socially, economically, and politically disadvantaged. (http://www.refworld.org/docid/4954ce53c.html)
Week Eleven During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency (2005-2013) there has been many unrepairable environmental damages done. Many lakes have been completely dried up (i.e., Lake Urmia and the Anzali Lagoon). He also reduced NGOs from 800 to 400. But now with President Hassan Rouhani in power, environmental issues are getting acknowledged and new environmental groups have have been created. (http://www.worldcrunch.com/culture-society/rumblings-inside-iran-039-s-environmental-movement/tehran-environment-protest-lake-urmia-hassan-rouhani/c3s16262/)
Week Twelve (The issue of democracy has been covered in the past postings, so this week's post will briefly explain a president's role in Iran). The president has the second highest official ranking after the supreme leader, who has the most "say" in the state's major affairs.The president has some influence over the media freedom but he can be overruled by the IRGC. To win presidency, one must win over 50% of the votes.