Between the Lines
08 Jul 2009 14:45
Photo: "Out of Masks," reads the store sign.
Dispatch from Tehran | 8 July 2009
On the front page article of Jam-e-Jam newspaper in Iran, July 7, 2009, is the photo of a man and boy, both wearing a mask; the man holding his right hand to his face.
The article reads: "Akidan tosieh mishavad az taraddod-e qeir-e zaroori dar fazay-e baz khoddari shavad."
"Tamam-e tosiehhaye havaye in chand rooze Tehran va ostanhaye gharbiye keshvar be in jomleh khatm mishavad, vaqti ghelzat-e alayandeye zarrat-e moalaq dar hava be baalatarin had-e khod dar 30 sal-e akhir resideh, va shakhes-e alayandegiy-e an vaared sharayet-e bohrani shod-e ast."
To translate, it says, "It is strictly recommended to refrain from unnecessary traffic in the open air."
In fact, all the recommendations regarding the weather in the past few days in Tehran and the western provinces of the country end with this sentence, "While the density of suspended polluting particles in the air has reached its highest level in the past thirty years, and the measure of its pollution has reached a critical level..."
But this is how we read it here, "While the density of polluting political and social particles in the air has reached its highest level in the past thirty years, and the measure of this pollution has reached a critical level..."
I had never experienced such political and meteorological turmoil in Iran at the same time.
Sunday, July 5, at 8 p.m., which was about 45 minutes before the azan-e maghreb, I left my home, went for a walk. The air was filled with smog, smoke -- I wasn't sure what. At first I thought my spectacles were dirty. I took them off to check the lenses against a grey, cloudy sky.
They were totally clean; I put them back on.
All I saw again was dust, smoke, smog...
I soon realized that it was hard to breathe.
Only the next morning, when I called a friend, was I informed that a sandstorm in Saudi Arabia had blown dust and sand towards Iraq, and on towards Iran.
That was a Monday morning, a holiday, the birth anniversary of Hazrat-e Ali.
This caused the authorities to declare Tuesday a holiday, due to heavy pollution.
And then on Tuesday, they declared Wednesday a holiday, due to dust (ghobar) from Iraq.
Then they declared Thursday a holiday, for it was still going to be difficult to breathe.
They did not mention that Thursday is the 18th of Tir, and a march had been planned on the streets. The best way to prevent protests is to declare a five-day holiday (Monday through Friday), during which most people will travel to the North and forget that they have unknowingly elected an illegitimate president, and many will forget that at least 20 protesters and innocent bystanders have been killed.
The regime, after all, is concerned about the people. They don't want them to come outside to breathe -- they might die.
Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau