It is just sad what the ex-Persian empire has become under Islamic rule.
Iranians Fume, Do Drugs, Have Sex Changes: Interview
Interview by Zinta Lundborg
Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- “I don’t think there’s anybody, Iranian or otherwise, expert or otherwise, who wasn’t really taken aback by this election,” says Hooman Majd.
Clad in a seersucker jacket accented with a colorful “dastmal Yazdi,” a silk handkerchief from the town famous for textiles, Majd came to Bloomberg’s world headquarters in New York to talk about the unfolding events in Iran -- the disputed election Mir Hossein Mousavi lost to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and subsequent protests -- and the paperback release of “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran” (Anchor Books).
Though he has lived in the U.S. since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Majd was born in Tehran, the grandson of an ayatollah, and travels back often to visit friends and family.
“On a road trip there in April, I found very little enthusiasm for Mousavi and for the election in general,” he notes. “A month later, things had completely changed.”
Lundborg: Why the turnaround?
Majd: The opposition kept asking: “Are you better off today than four years ago?”
A lot of people are generally unhappy, mostly about the economy. There’s 20-25 percent unemployment, and, I would say 50 percent underemployment in the country, with over 20 percent inflation. There was a general feeling that Ahmadinejad hadn’t governed properly.
Lundborg: The ayatollahs filter the modern world through the Koran?
Majd: That’s their job. For example, obviously there were no sex-change operations at the time of Mohammed the Prophet. But when Khomeini was still alive, the issue of sex-change operations came up: Is this something Islam would allow and he decided yes. The government will even pay for it.
Lundborg: So are there a lot of male to female operations?
Majd: It’s mostly male to female, but there are a lot of female to male operations as well. Iranian doctors are considered among the top surgeons in the world for this.
Lundborg: Scientific investigation is permitted?
Majd: Iran is one of the top countries in the world for stem-cell research and in vitro fertilization. The ayatollahs say Islam is pro-science and pro-modernity.
Lundborg: I was surprised to read in your book that Iran is a big drug nation.
Majd: Unfortunately, the Islamic Republic doesn’t allow for a lot of public entertainment, so it has to be private in people’s homes. When it comes to really letting loose, you either have illicit alcohol or illicit drugs.
Lundborg: Why do Iranians want the bomb?
Majd: I’m not sure they want the bomb, but it’s a source of pride to join the nuclear powers. The people have long memories of being a great Persian empire. Iran has been a nation for over 2,500 years in a region where no country has been a country for more than 100 years.
Lundborg: They don’t worry about Israel taking action?
Majd: The Iranians have calculated the risks and they don’t think the Israelis can get away with it. They have many heavily fortified underground facilities spread throughout Iran. And if there were an attack, Iran would probably be on a fast track to building nuclear weapons.
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