Photos by young Iranians show Tehran in transition

Fri Feb 6, 2009 9:45am EST
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By Catherine Bosley

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Chador-draped policewomen abseiling off a building, marching with bayonets or pointing machine guns out of a car, are all photos from a new book by young Iranians about social change in Iran.

"Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations," is accompanied by the premiere in London of three documentary films, including Ala Mohseni's "My City, Pizza," which investigates Tehranis fascination with the Italian dish.

The objective of the book "is to document the social transformation of Iran," Malu Halasa, one of the editors told Reuters in London.

"It's a view from the ground up," Halasa told Reuters. "(It's) a portrait of a country in transition, one which is largely misunderstood by the outside world."

In the 1980s Iran's birth rate skyrocketed and as a result, a large proportion of the country's youthful population does not remember the revolution of 1979, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established a government under Islamic law.

"Like 75 percent of Iranians, many of the contributors to Transit Tehran are under thirty-five," Halasa wrote in the book's introduction. "They represent a generation with strong emotional and social attachments to their culture and religion while being critical of the Iranian government's censorship."

The book, published in Britain, consists of essays and photos, such as those by Newsha Tavakolian of a transsexual woman who began life as a male truck driver and became a woman at the age of 45.

Rapper Mehrak Golestani wrote about Tehran's underground music scene, explaining the popularity of Persian-language rap and how songs are disseminated via the internet to avoid the government seal of approval.   Continued...

<p>Two students walk along an avenue near a university in Tehran, January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl</p>