July 29, 2007

The revolution strikes back | Economist.com

The revolution strikes back | Economist.com:

Interesting perspective from an Economist article. It seems two Irans exist, the focus of this piece. Worth a read.

"Iran is a young country (see chart): two out of three people are below the age of 30. On the streets of affluent north Tehran, young people dress in the latest fashions—even if the jeans-clad women are obliged by law to wear the Islamic headscarf (the hijab). The audience at prayers, however, is older: shabbily dressed men well into their 40s, regime stalwarts who have trekked uphill from the poor southern suburbs.

Which is the true Iran—the consumer-oriented young, bored by the slogans of a long-ago revolution and impatient to move on? Or the regime faithful chorusing the familiar slogans at Friday prayers?

It is tantalisingly hard to know. With 71m people and a multitude of languages and ethnicities, Iran is a difficult place to read. Although it has elements of democracy, including an elected president and parliament, the state is not ultimately controlled by elected institutions. And even the elected bit of the system is a backstage game of personalities and factions, not a transparent process rooted in political parties. Press freedom is limited, almost no serious independent opinion polling is allowed, and many official economic statistics appear simply to be made up. All this makes the regime's inner workings elusive. Outsiders can only follow the trend and make a guess."
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