Friday, July 10, 2009

A tale of two cities - part 2

Amjad Latipour was born in Tehran in May of 1983, just a few hours after a young woman named Neda Soltan was born in the same hospital.

His father, Shafiq, was born in 1960, halfway through the reign of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

For most of Shafiq’s youth, economic conditions in Iran were prosperous, and he and his family lived in a comfortable middle class home in Tehran.

On February 11, 1979, his older brother Tahir was riding with some friends near the U.S. Embassy.

Traffic in the area was very slow, and the air conditioning in their car was not working, so they got out of the vehicle to watch the demonstration (later called the Iranian Revolution) that was raging near the embassy.

Suddenly, a shot rang out. In seconds, Tahir was on the ground, mortally wounded.

None of the Iranian revolutionaries took responsibility for his death, and neither did the contingent at the U.S. embassy.

Since the young revolutionary guard no longer allowed public funerals, he was quietly laid to rest in a small plot of land the family owned on the eastern side of the city.

For the last 30 years, Shafiq has never said another word about the incident, but he often finds himself softly sobbing in the middle of the night.

Like his father and his grandfather, Amjad is a carpenter, but current economic conditions in his country have made it difficult to support his family – his wife Dorri, and their infant daughter Farah.

Throughout the Middle East, the unemployment rate is over 13%, twice as high as it is for the rest of the world. In Amjad’s age group, however, the unemployment rate is much higher. Currently at 34%, it is projected to be over 50% in less than two years.

The springtime was a good time for Amjad, since there were a number of projects under development in Tehran at the time, but since the first of June, the jobs have been few and far between.

He’s not sure how he’s going to feed his family, or even how to keep his house.

One day, not long ago, he was on his way home after another fruitless day of looking for work, and he cut through a city park near his home.

As he walked through the park, he noticed a brand new camera bag sitting on a bench, unattended.

He knew that it was wrong to steal, and the punishment prescribed for theft in the Koran (Sura 5.38) was severe, but he was hungry, and he knew that he could sell a good camera on the black market for almost 1,000,000 rial, roughly $100 U.S dollars. In a country where the average annual wage is $2700, his brief stray from the straight and narrow could feed his family for many weeks.

He took a quick, furtive, glance around the park, and without any further hesitation, put the camera in his backpack,

No comments:

Post a Comment