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The Iranian Culture War

Samara Greenberg

The mullahs in Iran have spent the last three decades trying to define Iranian culture as one of extreme religiosity and anti-Americanism by banning “Western” cultural norms such as certain haircuts, the printing and selling of goods associated with Valentine’s Day, and other similar issues.

In its latest stint at controlling its people, the Tehranian regime banned TV programs showing “half-naked men” and “tempting love triangles,” according to the state-run Fars News Agency, although exceptions would be made for shows that condemned such actions. The ban also prohibits “unnecessary mixing” of genders at “wedding ceremonies, family parties, work places and celebrations.” Earlier this year, Iran banned TV programs from showing viewers how to cook Western food dishes.

The 2005 execution of two teenagers convicted under Iran’s anti-homosexuality laws.

Meanwhile, it was reported this week that gay Iranians have created a Facebook page called “we are everywhere” to highlight that same-sex, bisexual, and transgender relations exist — and are discriminated against — in Iran. Back in 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously denied the presence of gays in his country, while in reality, same-sex relations are present but are illegal and punishable by death. The Facebook page, which has attracted hundreds of followers, shares audio messages and videos of Iranians talking freely about their sexual orientation while not revealing their identities.

What the Facebook page reveals is that the Iranian regime can place bans on as many supposedly-Western cultural phenomena as it wants, but it cannot, and will not, break the will of the people to embrace their independence.