From this month’s editor
Chris Brazier for the New Internationalist Co-operative firstname.lastname@example.org
This issue has been conceived from the start as one that would give Iranians the chance to communicate directly with our mainly Western readership. Iran is routinely demonized in the West, and its people are lost behind the stereotype of the mad mullah or the veiled woman. Th is magazine aims, as its front cover suggests, to ﬁ ll in the human detail and cultural diversity that the stereotype occludes. Not that fulﬁ lling the promise of an issue written and visualized by Iranians has been an easy process. We anticipated an enthusiastic response to our invitation to journalists, photographers and artists all over the country to make their pitch to us so that we could sift through the responses and decide which avenues to pursue. Th e anticipated ﬂ ood, however, turned out to be a trickle – just one journalist answered the initial call. Th ere is real fear abroad in Iran at present – an atmosphere of clampdown as hardliners try to roll back the relative freedoms enjoyed during the ‘Tehran Spring’ at the turn of the century. When Iranian journalists arriving back from an inoﬀ ensive international award ceremony were detained and given a severe warning about their future activity, I began to understand why an invitation from a Western magazine editor might seem like a poisoned chalice. Prioritizing Iranian photographers as well as writers has at times seemed like a labour of Sisyphus – but the end results have been rewarding. I have, however, needed a great deal of help to make it happen. Without making this seem too much like an Oscar-winner’s speech, I’d like to thank Nasrin Alavi, without whose advice and guidance this issue would genuinely not have been possible.
2 The view from Iran Chris Brazier argues for more understanding of Iran – and less confrontation.
6 Living in Iran
Assorted images of everyday life – all of them by Iranian photographers.
8 Signed with an X Women’s rights campaigner Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani reflects on a day spent knocking on doors.
10 THE FACTS
12 The Mirage What do people in poorer districts think of Ahmadinejad? Ali Moazzami ﬁ nds out.
14 Iran – a history From Cyrus the Great, Omar Khayyam and the Shahs to Ayatollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
17 The third generation Iran is young, vibrant and diverse, despite the repression, as Nasrin Alavi explains.
21 Currents + Seriously 24 ANTI-SLAVERY PIONEERS
30 Southern Exposure 31 View from Cochabamba
View from Cochabamba
33 Making Waves 34 Letters 35 Letter from Mauritius
Letter from Mauritius
– SPECIAL FEATURE 28 Mixed Media
– SPECIAL FEATURE
32 Big Bad World + NI Prize Crossword
36 Country Profile – Tajikistan
Magazine and front cover designed by Andrew Kokotka. All front cover photos by Arash Ashoorinia www.kosoof.com except Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by Reuters. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.