(Mianeh) | March 19, 2010
They’re at the heart of resistance to the regime – but that doesn’t stop them from having fun.
After a brief period of retreat from the outside world following the months of post- election protests, many middle-class Tehranis, who form the backbone of the opposition movement, are out and about again.
Preparing for the Persian New Year, which begins on March 20, they are shopping and meeting friends just as they do every year.
In fact, even at the height of the protests, they hadn’t given up on their social life, which, unlike in much of the rest of the world, takes place behind closed doors.
Even on the most intense days of protest, Ashura, for example, these protesters returned to their homes, called friends and shared stories about the day’s turmoil on the streets.
“After we left the scene in central Tehran, slightly banged up, and with the back windshield of my friend’s car shattered by a riot police baton, we made our way back to Shahrak Gharb where my photographer friends lived,” one journalist recounted.
“They uploaded their photos of the day, I wrote up my notes, and when everyone had finished work, we sat in front of the television watching state news – the satellite channels were blocked that day – and we played cards and ate pizza, laughing at the ridiculous statements issued by the chief of police.”
Over the past nine months, throughout the post-election turmoil, this scene has been played out countless times throughout Tehran. While confrontations with the regime have taken their toll on middle-class hopes for Iran’s future, they’ve not curbed their appetite for fun.
Iranians have a long history of idiosyncratic responses to strife that may explain this ability to shift seamlessly from violent protests against the authorities to apparently care-free, merriment.
There is even a special term for it: Bazm-o-Razm (which means “Battle and Bacchanalia” or “Fight and Fête”), referred to repeatedly in revered Persian poet Hakim Abol Qasem Ferdowsi’s 10th century epic, the Shahnameh.