Sunday, August 27, 2006

Growing up in Iran

“By the time they are six, Iranian children are already schizophrenic,” a young friend tells me and my friend. “I mean, when we were six, we already knew there were two worlds: one at home and one at school. We knew that we could not talk about what went on at home with our classmates. We knew how to keep secrets. Soon, we understood who we could joke with and who we had to tell that our parents prayed 100 times a day. In school, we had to learn to pray and we would look at each other and laugh. We had to chant “Death to America” every morning, and to pass each grade we had to talk about how much we hated America and how much we loved Mohammad. It’s crazy. That’s why Iranians develop such a good sense of humor. We make a joke about everything.”

“Are things still that way?” another friend asks.

“I don’t know. It was during the war with Iraq then. It was a more intense time.”

“Keivan’s niece still has to hate America and pass Koran classes. They don’t chant Down with America at her school, but some schools do. When she was younger they chanted every morning.” Sometimes I think it is good. Knowledge of the Koran means that they do not depend on the mullahs for interpretation. Iran’s youth are much better versed in the ambiguities of the Koran than their parents.

When I am out with children, they do not let me tell people that I am from America. Given the warm response I have received from almost every Iranian I have met, I wondered what they were so nervous about. Now I know: it’s school that makes them worried.


persianarchitect said...

I agree with your post, I guess we have all gone through true.

Gene said...

Maybe some day the usual crowd will be rounded up to listen to a speech by Ahmadinejad, but instead of dutifully chanting "death to America" or "death to Israel," they'll simply burst out laughing.

It's a nice thought anyway.

Anonymous said...

Asaalaam o Alaikum,

I am a German girl and converted to Islam around 1 1/2 years ago :). Its interesting to see what other people think about Islam, and how the stupid behaviour of individual "Muslims" shapes the general "picture of Islam". But the gravest fault of most non-muslims (and also muslims) is, that they blindly believe the medial crap they see every day on TV, instead of doin gsome research themeselves. Otherwise they would KNOW that NO Muslims can be a suicide-bomber or terrorist whatsoever. Since its FORBIDDEN in Quran to take ur own life. I am sad and I feel the majority aroun dme is sick with anger and frustration, searchin gfor an Outlet to their emotions, so I assume we make a great target...