Iran: Demographics and Democracy

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tehran subway

A quickly changing Iran? [Niosha Farshad /Flickr]

Just a quick placeholder here for an upcoming show.

We’re following up on our show To Iran, Like Nixon to China with a look at Iran’s democracy. And its demographics. Seventy percent of Iran’s population is under 30; Persian now ties French for the second most-used language in the blogosphere. So they’re young and they’re part of the Internet; how can we understand Iran’s limited and theocratic democracy?

Update, 12/13 at 4:22pm, by David

We’re hoping to pick up where last week’s show left off, and to get deeper inside Iran’s situation tonight. The definition of victory, to use our internal O.S. language, is to move past straight politics and toward a better understanding of Iran’s cultural cross-currents. Some of the strands of the discussion: what can be learned about Iran from its technologically savvy youth; the emerging power and politics of the blogosphere; and — whether it’s in films or blogs or underground newspapers or coffee shop discussions — how the coded language of dissent actually works.

The underlying question for all of this is the tension between the secular and the religious in a country that was listed by George Bush as one third of the axis of evil, and has been high on Western radar — for its nuclear ambitions, or Ahmadinejad’s denunciations of Israel, or the earthquake, or reading Lolita — ever since.

To answer these questions — and, perhaps more importantly, to ask some new ones — we’re turning to a young, diverse (Iranian/French/American, American, Iranian/British, and Iranian/Canadian) female-heavy group of writers and thinkers:

Lila Azam Zanganeh

Editor, the forthcoming anthology My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes

Contributor, Le Monde

Nasrin Alavi

Author, We Are Iran

Laura Secor

Staff editor of the Op-Ed page, New York Times

Author, “Fugitives” in the 11/21/05 New Yorker

Hossein Derakhshan

Blogger (in English), Editor: Myself

Blogger (in Persian), ??????: ????

Related Content

  • We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs. Nasrin Alavi.

    Check out these links:

    “Iranian bloggers have harnessed the subversive power of the Web to express themselves politically–and also to find dates in a society that curtails public courting…”,ft_acl=,s01=1.html

    Blogging against the mullahs

    Also, Hossein Derakhshan is the pre-eminent Iranian blogger, basically the grandfather of Iranian blogging, but I think he’s travelling a good deal in Euope right now…

  • Pingback: Shining Light in Dark Corners()

  • LeeJudt

    Shining Light in Dark Corners Says:

    “AIPAC, an Israeli interest and spy agency operating in the United States.”

    It seems like you are turning off the lights and spreading darkness with you anti-Semitic canards about Jewish spy agencies.

    Amazing how these jew haters never use their own names.

    Brandon your blog is becoming another Jew hating web site.

  • Given the alleged conduct of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman during their tenure at AIPAC, Shining Light’s categorization of AIPAC may not be so far off the mark. I’m withholding judgment until the results of their trial, but it certainly casts an ugly shadow on the organization. The court should throw the book at them if they’re found guilty.

  • LeeJudt

    >Given the alleged conduct of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman during their tenure at AIPAC, Shining Light’s categorization of AIPAC may not be so far off the mark. I’m withholding judgment until the results of their trial, but it certainly casts an ugly shadow on the organization. The court should throw the book at them if they’re found guilty.

    First, these individuals are no longer with AIPAC and the comment above was about AIPAC. Second, withholding judgment is what fair minded individuals should do. Third, why do you think their guilt i(if they are found guilty) deserves more severe punishment than other persons found guilty?

    From my perspective, the whole affair is overblown and the fact that the same people who are accusing the Bush people of acting unfairly towards other people being prosecuted now turn around and think that the prosecution of two Jews is both fair and reasonable tells me that there is more than a little bias involved here.

    This may not be the Dreyfus affair but the sentiment is pretty much the same: “they are Jews ergo they are guilty of treason.”

  • Also, speaking of Hossein Derakhshan, I recorded a podcast of him speaking at the WSIS summit in Tunisia last month:


  • Robin

    RicahrdNash- we got a press copy of Nasrin’s book a few weeks ago and that was one inspiration for this show. I’m interviewing her soon, and excited about that. Thanks for all those links!

  • eallison

    I’m disappointed at the way the thread from last night’s program disintegrated. He’s something to hopefully push this forward. Are any of you familiar with Thomas Barnett’s work? He wrote “The Pentagon’s New Map” last year and has a new book out recently.

    Barnett suggested in an Esquire article a while back (and in his book) that a pillar of US policy should be to co-opt Iran by cutting a deal with them acknowledging them as a regional power and blessing their having the bomb in exchange for opening up their markets/connecting them to the world more. He’s pointed out recently that Rafsanjani, who’s been a proponent of engaging with the west, was appointed to the head of a body that mediates between the elected branch at the Guardian council. An interesting result, and one that could explain Ahmadinejad’s apparent need to flex his rhetorical muscles in the recent past.

    Anyway, I think Barnett would make a great guest for a program along these lines in the future.

  • leejjudt

    To all of you in love with the Iranian dictator:

    Iran’s Ahmadinejad casts doubt on Holocaust

    Thu Dec 8, 2005 10:34 AM ET

  • nother

    Did you catch this story on Day to Day about the American basketball player in Iran?

  • maotalk

    Read how the UK helped the Shah start his nuclear program 30 years ago.,,1653668,00.html

  • A little yellow bird

    There’s nothing too surprising about the weeds of repressed desire, for ALL kinds of freedom, poking up through the pavement of excessive regimentation, religious or otherwise. Young Iran also won’t stand by silently while the axis of Bush, Inc. furhters its imperial agenda.

  • A little yellow bird

    Also, I’d lay good odds that the common Iranian citizen doesn’t really want war in general, or wiping Israel off the map, specifically, and especially young Iranians. It is customary, historically, for older men to start trouble in the world and argue for abstractions like Homeland and honor rather than real things like life and all it encompasses, like natural sensuality. GO EROS! BEAT THANATOS!!

  • Pingback: Automatic News » Blog Archive » New York Times Predicts an Even Split in Iraqi Elections–Is Iran the Elephant in the Room?()

  • A little yellow bird

    Vote for Shrillary, vote for Bush’s wars:

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