Saturday, January 15, 2005

Iran's Greatest Hope: Women & Gen X?

It may be women who save Iran. Noble Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi is standing up to the Mullahs (see post below), and now, according to the Financial Times, the popular Mehr-Banoo classical music group is made up of 6 women and 4 men:


But the presence of female performers, wearing yellow scarves and long black shirts and trousers, outnumbering the men in the band, poses a direct challenge to Iran's hardliners, who would like to see greater restrictions on women.

The FT adds:


Many young women ignore the loose dresses recommended by the religious establishment and instead wear tight trousers, covered with short overcoats or flimsy cotton shirts. Their headscarves slip backwards to reveal as much hair as possible, and they wear heavy make-up.

Last summer, a Tehran police chief announced during a crackdown on women for non-observance of hijab that the arrest of "100 street supermodels" would resolve the problem. But this proved not to be the case, as many women responded with defiance.

The FT finds challenges coming not just from women but from Iran’s youth as well:

But despite their growing political strength, the conservatives face a challenge in the social arena. Their main source of support comes from the traditional sections of Iranian society. But there is widespread dissatisfaction with the regime among Iranians under 35 years old, who make up about 70 per cent of the population of 70m.

Many are highly educated and with access to internet and satellite TV, making attempts at censorship futile.

"The mental gap between the rulers and young people is now between 100 and 150 years," said Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a former vice-president who resigned in protest at parliament's conservative shift.

Maybe Iran’s MTV-generation will be able to really rock the vote. Is their anything we can do to help?

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