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I'm moving to Iran...why are you looking at me like that???

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Message Amir Taheri
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Why is it that if someone were to say I'm moving to Iran that this would be a surprising sentence, apart from the fact that it has received so much negative publicity. Why do so many people both in Iran and abroad find this to be an unusual thing to do. Iran is a country like any other. Iran is quite stable in a region of instability. For example, in many of its neighboring countries, there are conflicts like the Israeli/Palestine situation or the Armenian/Azerbaijan conflict, let's forget the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and let's also not mention poor Pakistan with their coups, internal wars, and more recently floodings. Women are freer and more respected in Iran than in say any of the Arab neighbors. In Saudi Arabia, for example women can't hold most jobs, are restricted in many ways of their lives and can't even drive a car. Yet in Iran, not only do women perform most jobs like civil services i.e. policing, fire-fighting, we have women in Iran's parliament, we have a woman minister in government, we even have a woman vice president. Iran is quite a diverse country as well, with many ethnicities and religions living harmoniously, which cannot be said about other Middle Eastern countries. In Iran, Muslims, Christians, and Jews have been living side by side for millennia. Iran even has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside Israel. Iran's health care is also one of the best in the world. Besides pioneering research in stem cells (religious waivers have been given permitting this, making Iran the only Muslim country) Iran was the first country in the region to start cloning. Its family planning teaches safe sex and the use of condoms not even acceptable yet in the US. Its preventive drugs program has been named by the UN as a world model with use of methadone to wean users off drugs, setting up free treatment centers across the country, and pushing for drug addiction as a disease versus a crime. It even gives out clean needles to drug users to avoid the spread of diseases like AIDS. At the moment there is pilot program in the Mississippi valley for implementing a health care program started more than two decades ago in Iran and proved very successful for reducing disease, child mortality, and other problems that go unnoticed when not regularly seeing a medial specialist. This is a rare time when both countries have put politics aside to save lives.
So with all these realities on the ground why is it that one can say I'm moving to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Colombia, Ecuador, or countless other countries with no second thought and yet when you would say I'm moving to Iran you get ghastly looks and questions about safety or looks as if you have gone mad. The honest answer is, it comes down to misconceptions for foreigners and being culturally predisposed to being unsatisfied for Iranians. Americans or other foreigners know very little about this land and Iranians are a naturally pessimistic folk, unsatisfied with everything. You could give an Iranian a million dollars today and he would come back tomorrow and say "thanks but I get a million a day, right?"
This is the first chapter of my book, A Journey Home 
First posted on The Real Amir Taheri 
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I am a business consultant by day working to bring Iranian businesses into the international market and in the evenings a journalist. My hope is to show the real Iran to the western world.
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