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2017 and Other Stories

December 28, 2017
Weekly Roundup
4 min read
2017 and Other Stories

Dear friends,

The year 2017 has been dramatic for Iran, both domestically and on the international stage. Even before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the United States’ 45th president, Iranian politics was shaken by the unexpected death of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a towering figure in Iranian politics for decades and one of the architects of the revolution and the Islamic Republic. 

Not long after Trump was sworn in, he introduced his controversial executive order enforcing a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, including Iranians. Iranian-Americans, who tend to pride themselves on their positive contributions to US society, were shocked. Anxious to remind the world (and our American audience) of these contributions, throughout the year IranWire published profiles of some of the most innovative, influential and inspirational. Among them was Iranian-American Maryam Mirzakhani, who tragically lost her life to cancer at age 40 later in the year. 

The Plasco Building disaster early this year and the earthquake earlier this month were major shocks for Iranians too, as was the terrorist attack in June. In all of this, the Iranian public spoke out about the need for the government to be better about everything: Sharing information, better building standards, improved infrastructure, transparency about responsibility and government accountability. 

It was also election year for Iranians, and — after worries that one of the key players in the 1988 mass execution might enjoy substantial support from the electorate — President Rouhani was re-elected in a landslide victory. There were sighs of relief from reformists, and from people hoping for some substantial progress for human rights and greater equality. But it’s been disappointing how little has improved since Rouhani was first elected in 2013. Arrests of journalists and activists continue, and the dual nationals arrested in 2015 and 2016 (Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi) and before (Kamal Foroughi, arrested in 2011) as well as US and European residents (Nizar Zakka, Ahmad Reza Jalali) all remain behind bars. Female sports fans can’t cheer on their teams in public stadiums, and girls can still legally be married at young ages. The death penalty is still handed down with disturbing regularity, including in the case of Dr Jalali, who has been found guilty on trumped-up espionage charges. 

IranWire continues to report on Baha’is, who still face vicious persecution despite the Rouhani administration’s insistence that the situation will improve. This year, more Baha’i students were banned from taking part in further education, and authorities forcibly closed Baha’i shops and businesses after owners observed Baha’i holidays. But there was good news too: Several prominent Bahai’s were released from prison, and the stunning work of Education Is Not a Crime and its murals around the world has been an incredible chance to celebrate free speech and the power of street art while raising awareness of the situation for Baha’is in Iran. 

Iran continues to make itself felt as a major power and influence in the region, through its support of Hezbollah and the Houthis and the proxy war with Saudi Arabia and its operations against ISIS. In November, Iran's key military commander and President Hassan Rouhani declared that ISIS had been defeated in Syria and Iraq. This was just a few short months after ISIS attacked Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine, resulting in the death of 23 people and not long after ISIS stepped up its Persian language propaganda, targeting Iran’s disenfranchised Sunnis.

The year 2017 was not all bad. Iran is going to the 2018 World Cup next year in Russia! We’ve seen some brave civic action throughout the year — protests against the death penalty (or rather, about the value of life) and in defence of education and learning, fundraising for earthquake victims and for other causes, art initiatives and celebrations of Iranian culture and heritage. And Iranians continue to adapt to the latest innovations in technology to ensure they can exercise their right to free speech. What’s always inspiring is the imagination, commitment and energy so many Iranians have to tackle injustice, to show the world what they really think and feel in the face of a political and religious system that repeatedly tries to force citizens to see the world — and live it — in the way it dictates. This has never been the case, not really, and that force of resistance was strong and clear throughout 2017.

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

Warm regards 


“The world is now a smaller place for Iranian refugees" - CLICK HERE

Rouhani: The Republic's Repairman (2013-2021) - CLICK HERE

The Plasco Building Fire Disaster - CLICK HERE

Iran, Earthquakes and What the Iranian Government Must Do - CLICK HERE

Rafsanjani's Death Shakes Iranian Politics - CLICK HERE

An Exclusive Interview With the Freed Baha'i Leader - CLICK HERE 

The Cost of Discrimination: The Film - CLICK HERE

What does ISIS say when it speaks Persian? - CLICK HERE

Death of an Iranian Genius - CLICK HERE

50 Iranian-Americans you Should Know: Payam Zamani - CLICK HERE

50 Iranian-Americans you Should Know: Arya Marvazy - CLICK HERE



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