Oct. 9, 2015
Iran’s Identity Crisis– Kim Ghattas (Foreign Policy)
On the flight from Istanbul to Imam Khomeini International Airport in August for a weeklong assignment for the BBC, I was struck by how few of the women were veiled.
By the time the plane landed, all the women had donned the veil – a reflection of the gap between the lives Iranians must lead inside their country and the life many of them would like to have.
For the only theocracy in the region, Iran seems much less overtly concerned with religion than its Sunni neighbors and the only country in the Middle East where people are more secular than their government.
Five days into my stay, I suddenly realized something was missing: the call to prayer. It echoes through all Arab cities, at varying decibels, five times a day. In Tehran, you hear the call to prayer once a week, on Fridayat noon, and prayers are held at one central location: Tehran University.
Across the country, in every town and city, prayers are held in one designated mosque. Mosque attendance is low in Iran. In Tehran, a city of 12 million, there are roughly 10,000 loyalists who show upon Friday.