No Monsters Here------A Pictorial Essay On Everyday Iran

By FLORA DRURY at The Daily Mail

Think of Iran, and images of oppression and executions, a downcast people and rugged mountains or dry deserts immediately spring to mind.

But a group of passionate Iranians have captured stunning images of their day-to-day lives - with some truly eye-opening insights into a country which people in the West associate with a religious dictatorship, watching their every move with an iron rod held aloft and ready to strike at any infraction.

Indeed, even Ali Kaveh, one of the founders of EverydayIran, claims he has found himself surprised at the pictures emerging from his home country.

Beautiful: This shot captured two babies celebrating their first spring with their mother in a tradition known as Gol Qualtan. This picture was shared on the EverydayIran instagram account, which aims to challenge the stereotype of Iran in western media

Beautiful: This shot captured two babies celebrating their first spring with their mother in a tradition known as Gol Qualtan. This picture was shared on the EverydayIran instagram account, which aims to challenge the stereotype of Iran in western media

Relaxed: Friends sit together in Tehran. Their brightly coloured, modern clothes go against western images of the Islamic Republic

Relaxed: Friends sit together in Tehran. Their brightly coloured, modern clothes go against western images of the Islamic Republic

Unexpected: A cleric goes shopping with his two children at Qom Hypermarket - very much against the stereotypical image

Unexpected: A cleric goes shopping with his two children at Qom Hypermarket - very much against the stereotypical image

Women: This female student at the Islamic University of Qazvin learns how to weld - a skill considered a male job even in liberal countries

Women: This female student at the Islamic University of Qazvin learns how to weld - a skill considered a male job even in liberal countries

A picture of two smiling babies being covered in rose petals as part of custom called 'Gol Qaltan', to mark the children's first spring, was an entirely new idea.

'That's one of the pictures that surprised me,' admitted Kaveh. 'It was very very interesting - I didn't know these kind of customs happened in Iran.'

The 26-year-old and two friends were inspired to start the project after seeing EverydayAfrica, which saw photographers from around the continent uploading snapshots of their day.

But they decided they could narrow the area, and focus just on Iran - a country which has become synonymous with the revolution of 1979, the threat of nuclear war and women covered head to toe in the black 'chador'.

Headlines around the world focus on the continuing hostilities with Israel. Just last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei apparently published a 416-page guide to destroying the Jewish state - and its tensions with America following the 1979 hostage crisis, which saw 52 Americans being held in the embassy for 444 days.

The country's human rights record and social freedoms also come under the spotlight on a frequent basis. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all banned by the country's strict Islamic leader. Instagram is one of the only social media platforms which is available.

But there are 77million people living in Iran, who embrace the country's proud Persian roots, and traditions - which have always made them stand apart from their Middle Eastern neighbours.

And EverydayIran has provided an outlet for them to share what it is really like to live in a country which, until 1979, was embracing westernisation - albeit under a shah who repressed an opposition.

Sheltering: These people are hiding from the heat of the summer sun under Khajou Bridge, as they have done since it was built in 1690

Sheltering: These people are hiding from the heat of the summer sun under Khajou Bridge, as they have done since it was built in 1690

Joy: A band performs in a Tehran shopping centre. This would not be possible in Saudi Arabia, where music is banned in public places

Joy: A band performs in a Tehran shopping centre. This would not be possible in Saudi Arabia, where music is banned in public places

History: The stunning Al-Nabi Mosque, in Qazvin, the ancient capital of Persian empire, was built in about 1787

History: The stunning Al-Nabi Mosque, in Qazvin, the ancient capital of Persian empire, was built in about 1787

Everyday: A family celebrates their son's third birthday, with a cake decorated with cars - like little boys' cakes around the world

Everyday: A family celebrates their son's third birthday, with a cake decorated with cars - like little boys' cakes around the world

Religion: Eir Al-Fit prayers in Hamedan. Iran is run by a government, and a Supreme Leader, a religious figure who controls vast swathes of the country's institutions - including the police force and media

Religion: Eir Al-Fit prayers in Hamedan. Iran is run by a government, and a Supreme Leader, a religious figure who controls vast swathes of the country's institutions - including the police force and media

Celebrations: A young woman expresses her joy after a deal was reached on nuclear weapons with the west. It means the end of more than a decade of sanctions, which have made the lives of ordinary people very difficult, according to Ali Kaveh

Celebrations: A young woman expresses her joy after a deal was reached on nuclear weapons with the west. It means the end of more than a decade of sanctions, which have made the lives of ordinary people very difficult, according to Ali Kaveh

'EverydayIran was the fourth or fifth Everyday project,' explained Kaveh, himself a freelance photographer.

'Our goal was to show images of Iran to the world, and try to challenge or fight the stereotypes against our country in the mainstream media.'

The pictures shared on EverydayIran feature a few of the types of photos one might expect to see of life in the Islamic Republic.

There is the odd picture of women wearing the black chador, making their way across courtyards in front of soaring mosques, clerics chatting amongst themselves, people at prayer.

Tradition: A man repairing a 'Lanj' boat - an old fashioned fishing vessel - on the coast of the Persian Gulf

Tradition: A man repairing a 'Lanj' boat - an old fashioned fishing vessel - on the coast of the Persian Gulf

Infrastructure: Tohid Tunnel, the third longest tunnel in the Middle East, runs underneath Tehran

Infrastructure: Tohid Tunnel, the third longest tunnel in the Middle East, runs underneath Tehran

Shopping: The Islamic Republic prefer women to wear the 'chador', but many choose to wear more modern clothes - albeit modest

Shopping: The Islamic Republic prefer women to wear the 'chador', but many choose to wear more modern clothes - albeit modest

Sport: In Iran, women are not allowed to ride motorbikes in public - but six have been allowed to compete on amateur tracks

Sport: In Iran, women are not allowed to ride motorbikes in public - but six have been allowed to compete on amateur tracks

Entertainment: Kaveh explains this is an 'old-fashioned' style of street entertainment - but he doesn't agree with the monkey being used

Entertainment: Kaveh explains this is an 'old-fashioned' style of street entertainment - but he doesn't agree with the monkey being used

But then there are the women learning how to weld in a workshop at university, the father - a cleric - pushing his smiling daughter in a brightly-coloured toy car through a supermarket, and the young people sitting in front of a graffiti'd wall in capital Tehran, all jeans and colourful headscarves.

In fact, Iran - military threats aside - is relatively liberal when compared to neighbours like Saudi Arabia, which doesn't allow music in public places, and demands women wear an abaya - the long cloak - while authorities in Tehran simply require modesty, and even allow jeans.

Because of the open policy on allowing everyone and anyone to contribute, the account gives a glimpse of a cross section of society - from the man building a boat on the shore, to the band playing a song in the middle of a shopping mall and the child celebrating his third birthday in the garden.

'We invite everybody who lives or works in Iran to send daily life photos with the hashtag "everyday Iran". Then, as a curator, we look into these and choose some of them for the project.'

It means on certain days, the account is inundated with snaps - like the day the nuclear deal was signed.

Tensions: They may just look like your average watermelon, but the colourful fruit found itself a the centre of an international row this year when the UAE accused Iran of 'contaminating' the produce exported to the country 

Tensions: They may just look like your average watermelon, but the colourful fruit found itself a the centre of an international row this year when the UAE accused Iran of 'contaminating' the produce exported to the country

Viewpoint: Tehran is also home to the sixth tallest telecommunications tower in the world, the Milad Tower, which looks out across the city

Viewpoint: Tehran is also home to the sixth tallest telecommunications tower in the world, the Milad Tower, which looks out across the city

Ancient: A woman jumping over the fire as a part of an old Iranian tradition called ‘Chahar-Shanbeh Soori’, a kind of fire festival which takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowrouz, or the Iranian new year celebrations

Ancient: A woman jumping over the fire as a part of an old Iranian tradition called ‘Chahar-Shanbeh Soori’, a kind of fire festival which takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowrouz, or the Iranian new year celebrations

In the end, they settled on a picture of a young woman and a little boy, waving pictures and balloons as they celebrate the end of 12 years of sanctions.

For Kaveh, it was a big day, and picking the perfect picture was of huge importance.

'I think the sanctions are like a disease to our country,' he said. 'When we get rid of it, we are as happy to be cured as a healthy person who survives a bad disease.'

That picture alone had 3,283 'likes' on the photo-sharing service - perhaps unsurprising when the account has 76,100 followers from all around the world, commenting and interacting.

Old meets new: A glimpse of the old world in Iran, shown to the world through a new platform

Old meets new: A glimpse of the old world in Iran, shown to the world through a new platform

Growing: A man sells second-hand clothes in Qazvin, with the cranes signalling the expanding city behind

Growing: A man sells second-hand clothes in Qazvin, with the cranes signalling the expanding city behind

Industry: Women study the Koran in Aran va Bigdol - a city which is known for its carpet making

Industry: Women study the Koran in Aran va Bigdol - a city which is known for its carpet making

The account has also created a community closer to home - not least, in Kaveh's own neighbourhood.

'A lot of neighbours have come out to talk to me since we started this project, and I do not actually know these neighbours, or don't know them very well.

'That is kind of surprising for me.'

But Kaveh also believes it puts an end to the traditional form of travel journalism, where a photographer spend a week travelling a country, and giving an outsiders view on what is, or isn't, interesting.

EverydayIran, he argues, shows every side of his country - from the coast to the city, the mountains to the jungle.

'You can go and look at the real photos of Iran - more than 15,000 people send their pictures to us through the hashtag,' he points out.

 

Source: #EverydayinIran: Residents of Middle Eastern country try to turn preconceptions of life there on head with set of stunning images (and there's not a hanging or nuclear warhead in sight) | Daily Mail Online

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