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Soleimani And Other Stories

November 22, 2017
Weekly Roundup
2 min read
Soleimani And Other Stories

Dear friends,

Iran is still reeling from the devastation of the November 12 earthquake. With a lack of confidence in government agencies’ ability to cope — and with memories of failures after the massive earthquake in Bam in 2003 still fresh in their minds — many people have responded by donating to smaller fundraising initiatives launched by groups and individuals. Some of these campaigns have raised thousands in a short period of time — donations that appear to be going directly to the communities that most need help, despite obvious concerns about how easy it is to track them.

Political ramifications of the disaster have been huge. When news that some of the worst of the quake damage affected people in newly-built social housing, President Rouhani and his allies were quick to point the finger at former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spearheaded an ambitious plan to house millions of Iran’s poorest families in a short time — a plan that, thanks to corruption and mismanagement, led to shoddily-built homes unable to withstand powerful earthquakes. Even with the facts of the damage plain to see, Ayatollah Khamenei’s right-hand man defended the housing scheme, and attacked the president and his first vice president for their promises to punish those people responsible. In the same week, Ahmadinejad directly attacked the influential Larijani family, urging his supporters and hardliners not to let the Larijanis take over the country. It’s interesting timing, and probably calculated to distract the media and the public from the fresh controversies of his largely failed project. 

As with the accounts of Iranians helping one another after the earthquake, it’s always good to hear stories of people with diverse backgrounds coming together in solidarity. Fariba Kamalabadi’s recollections of her time in prison offers one unexpected example. The Baha’i leader, who was released on October 31, has described the horrendous conditions she and others suffered in prison. But she also talks about what she learned during her 10 years in prison — about human nature, friendship, and shared experience. She says she learned some valuable lessons while she was in jail. And Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former president Rafsanjani, has maintained ties with her after getting to know her while they were held on the same communal ward — suggesting that empathy does have currency in Iran, even when there’s so much distressing news around.

As always, please let me know if you have any comments. 

Warm regards 



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