In Tehran, despair and exile on the horizon

After the crash, the Iranian community comes to meditate at the Toronto memorial. Canada, January 12.
After the crash, the Iranian community comes to meditate at the Toronto memorial. Canada, January 12. CARLOS OSORIO / REUTERS

Coffee in the mezzanine. In the night of February, the snow falls. Mani ordered a chocolate cake and an Americano coffee. The place, clinging to the edge of a square in a well-to-do neighborhood in the north of Tehran, belongs to this archipelago of innumerable places in the Iranian capital, where ordinary and relatively affordable cosmopolitanism takes place. Carrot cake, macaroons, sandwiches.

Outside, the Islamic Revolution is at the top of the line between fast-food stores and ladies' shoe stores. The slogans, the posters, the portraits of the martyrs of past and present wars draw a parallel universe which spreads in the night, along the icy avenues, under the glow of neon lights, towards the depths of an endless city …

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Conservatives in Iran use memory of General Soleimani

In the cafe, Mani has drawn features. "I think we are completely lost", he blows to begin with. He is 28 years old, he lacks hair. His skin is on his bones, his back bent. This journal editor, also a psychotherapist, has just completed a two-year military service in a barracks in the capital which allowed him to return home in the evening. The last four months crossed by the Iranians offer in his memory a superposition of cataclysms whose chronology is erased in a permanent present, governed by anguish … "This society is going through traumas that fall upon it one after the other, until it loses count …"

The Iran he evokes is a painting of apocalypse. US sanctions are strangling ordinary Iranians between inflation and a fall in the national currency. Hundreds of people were massacred during the brutal repression of a mass social movement in November 2019. The internet was completely cut off by the authorities, plunging the country into the night during the same period.

Cruel mechanics of history

When General Ghassem Soleimani was assassinated on January 3 in Baghdad, in an American drone fire, war seemed imminent. His funeral attracts gigantic masses. In his hometown, a crowd movement kills dozens of people. On January 8, a volley of ballistic missiles hit an American base in Iraq. A few hours later, an airliner also flew west, carrying a majority of Iranians. He was shot down over Tehran by a shot from the Iranian air defense. One hundred seventy-six people die. The operator mistook the Boeing 737 of Ukraine International Airline for a cruise missile from the opposite direction.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here