Inside the Axis of Not Quite So Evil After All

One-third of President Bush's "Axis of Evil", the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most demonised countries on the planet.
However, it's also one of the most welcoming, friendly and fascinating places I've been. 
It's the kind of place where a crowd burning an effigy of Uncle Sam will pause to call out "hello mister, welcome to Iran!"; where bearded mystics pray at the tombs of long-dead poets; where teenagers are so desperate for contact with the West they'll wait hours for a five-minute conversation with a tourist; where Muslim clerics insist on paying for your bus ticket; and where, 30 years after the Islamic revolution, a new generation is hungry for greater freedom - social, sexual and political. 

Above from left: 100, 250 and 500 Rial coins; Iranian visa, issued only after two weeks of waiting at the embassy in Erzurum, Turkey; 10,000 Rial note featuring Ayatollah Khomeini; and a 5000 Rial note depicting protestors in the 1979 Islamic Revolution (10,000 Rials was roughly US$1 when I visited in 2004). Click on the thumbnails below to view full size.

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Copyright Peter de Graaf 2010 : Ramblings designed and built by Peter de Graaf : Last updated March 2010