Istanbul, the refuge of disillusioned Iranians

Iranian singer Sogand on stage at the Masquerade club in Istanbul on February 12.
Iranian singer Sogand on stage at the Masquerade club in Istanbul on February 12. FURKAN TEMIR FOR THE WORLD

Short skirts, sequined dresses and decorated with feathers, shiny fabrics, plunging necklines, apparent pierced navel, rounded breasts and buttocks. In the Masquerade club in Istanbul, Iranian women allow themselves all the extravagance prohibited by the Islamic Republic of Iran. They dance, drink and smoke. That evening, too many men proudly displayed their redone noses and their shiny black suits. On that evening in mid-February, a few days before Turkey closed all of its borders with Iran to protect itself from the coronavirus, some were wearing Bermuda shorts, above their knees, which were banned in Tehran.

In recent years, Turkey has become the favorite destination of all Iranian revelers. In this visa-free country, the Iranians are trying to forget the rigors and the misfortunes that they have left at home for a few drunken evenings.

In the room, bottles of vodka and champagne are circulating. The smoke from shisha and cigarettes is already stinging your eyes, waiting for Sogand, the biggest star of the young generation of Iranian singers. At 34, Sogand now lives in London. Between 2014 and 2018, her passport was taken from her by the Iranian authorities to punish her for her musical activities and for her photos in Iranian parties, little to the tastes of the Islamic Republic.

"I will never vote again"

Mahmoud came from Tehran specially for the concert. Despite some initial apprehensions. "This is my second trip to Turkey. But this time, I was afraid to fly Explains this frail young man, shouting in deafening music. On January 8, a Ukrainian airline Boeing was shot down " by mistake " near Tehran by the Revolutionary Guards. The 176 victims of this disaster, mostly Iranian, even haunt those who came to party in Istanbul.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Ayatollah Ali Khamenei chooses hard line to regain control of official narrative

Mahmoud remembers. He had gone to protest outside Amir Kabir University with thousands of other Tehranese people, when the guards admitted their responsibility, after three days of denial and lies. The police used force that evening to disperse the crowd. “The Islamic Republic was responsible for the crash. But she handled it very badly, lying and then suppressing the demonstrations. I'm mad. I will never vote again, even though I voted in 2017 for (moderate president) Hassan Rohani. Now I am against this whole system ”, explains the young man who decided not to vote in the parliamentary elections on February 21, when he had supported President Hassan Rohani. He feels safe in Turkey and does not mince words.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here