EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/Publics

My Living Room as a Public Sphere

An Iranian experiment in free society

“I’m not certain that the ideal society should be religious. I start from the premise that the ideal society should be secular.” So spoke documentary filmmaker, Mehran Tamadon, in a conversation with the four conservative mullahs, advocates of the Islamic republic, he invited to be part of his new movie Iranian. The conversation consists of five men sitting in a living room in Iran, arguing about the ideal society: this is pretty much the plot.

Behind closed doors, the mullahs’ wives are relegated to the bedrooms as their children play in the garden; in the living room, the four clerics and the self-avowed atheist embark upon a fascinating experiment. …

EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Iran, Fear and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

My partner and I saw Iran from our own eyes last May 2014. The plane was going up and down, as I never experienced before. The pilot seemed to struggle to land in what appeared to be a sand storm over Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran. This difficult landing injected adrenaline in my blood. It did not need this adrenaline. My blood was already racing in a closed circuit it knew too well. The literature I read on Iran, be it critical, balanced or favorable to the regime, did not help. I was anxious to cross the Iranian border as no other border before. Images of interrogation, imprisonment, and torture could not escape from my mind. It was too late to turn back. I took my courage in both hands and we joined the queue. After half an hour waiting, a customs officer scanned our passport and visa. …