The Persian Hypocrisy*
Ali Asghar Kazemi
Ever since the hard-line government came to power in Iran and attempted to solve various problems of the country by force and populist policies, inflation, unemployment and other social troubles got out of control in various sectors of the society. At first officials denied the whole quandary and blamed liberals and enemies of Islam for fabricating propaganda in order to weaken the popular government.
Gradually the matter became so flagrant and critical that even hard-line MP’s in the Islamic Parliament (Majlis) started to nag and criticized the government for its failure in containing the galloping inflation. Finally the President and other high officials admitted to some extent the existence of these problems but, as expected, they put the blame on domestic invisible evils hand and extraneous factors for the anomalies.
Indeed, Inflation, unemployment, poverty, corruption, drugs abuse, robbery, burglary, forgery, assault, petty crimes and other social ills are familiar occurrences in almost all societies. But when these events grow out of proportion in a religious state such as Iran, the matter requires serious attention.
Official media usually depicts only parts of the problems and others prefer not to cover such events fearing regime discontent which could be very costly. Nevertheless, from time to time when bad news pierces their way to mass media, we realize that their propagation is amazingly dangerous. For instance, you would hear that in just one day hundreds of burglars, thieves, mobs and drug traffickers are arrested in the streets of Tehran and handed over to the justice department. Apparently, the Justice department is compelled to release them back to the streets because lack of sufficient rooms in jails and detention houses; and the vicious circle goes on and on.
Tremendous gap between the haves and have-nots has created an extremely hostile environment among people in big cities such as Tehran. Flashy cars, lavish restaurants, sumptuous shops and luxury houses are indeed very repulsive to people who really can’t afford their daily bread. Without a doubt, the situation is susceptible to create clash between various layers of the society. There seems to be no chance that the government could tackle with the problem the way it has been doing so far. This will incite little people to solve their misery outside the realm of law, ethics and rationality.
Of course many descent and honest poor people may take the hardship as a misfortune, fate, and bad luck. But needy greedy populaces don’t see the matter this way and are tempted to revolt against such injustice in their own ways. Realizing to be unable to claim justice from the government, they will go after wealthy and opulent targets in order to put things straight and get their share. Car thefts, burglaries, assaults, larceny, bank robbery etc. are ordinary occurrences in big cities. In their view this is a handy way to get around poverty, injustice and unfair distribution of wealth and oil revenue promised by the president!
For example, commuting to your work by car is a risky affair these days; since you are always susceptible to fall into some sort of tricky trap laid on your way in order to drag you into some kind of trouble. Phony accidents for stealing your valet or hand bag, asking money for faked injury and damages, staging scenario to eject you out of your SUV, stabbing you to death for stealing your car; and other hazardous incidents, are ordinary occurrences in the daily life.
Forgery and counterfeiting of all kind of documents: academic degrees, driving license, identity card, certificate of conscript, invoice, letter of credit, money bill, traveler’s checks, etc. are common lucrative business. You can get any degree from any university in any academic and professional field by few hundreds dollars. You can obtain any kind of hard drug in the corner of the street or in public parks. They are cheaper and more accessible than cigarettes.
If you decide to spend your life saving to buy an apartment or a piece of land, you may end up becoming victim of a fraudulent deal. Charlatans, imposters swindlers and moon-shiners are waiting for you every where. Use and abuse of sacred names and religious symbols for cheating you are common business and you should always be cautious of not being rip-off here and there.
There is no doubt that these plagues can not be remedied by mere force, coercive measures or even enacting of laws and regulations. When poverty and injustice surpass its tolerable threshold, social disruption is inevitable. In such circumstances, if the ruling system proves incapable to cure the malaise and show signs of weakness and perplexity, people may revolt against it; otherwise they will launch at each other’s throats.
Elections days are nearing and officials are showing their friendly faces. Hard-liners are more or less confident of their victory in the parliament. Nonetheless, they make believe to need people’s support to remain in power. But in practice, both rulers and ruled only pretend to be gratifying each other while permanently planning for mutual deception. This is hypocrisy par excellence which is becoming rule of the game in this land of legend.
Persian hypocrisy has had tremendous impact upon Iran’s history. It has misled governments and rulers in their evaluation of the situation. Contemporary political process, from constitutional revolution to Mossadeq era and later the 1979 revolution, which caused the downfall of monarchy in Iran, is vivid consequences of this characteristic.
The “amazing Persian” who has survived throughout the time elapsed by adapting himself to repression, deprivation and decadence, is experiencing yet another era of hardship and confusion in his long tumultuous history. God knows where the present trend will drag our nation and the future generations. /
* This is the third and last commentary on the subject of Politics and Hypocrisy. To read the previous articles see Strategic Discourse .