Iran: Economic Crises Lowering Society’s Tolerance Level
By Amir Taghati
With Iran’s political, economic and social crises increasing day after day, a phenomenon to which regime media refer as ‘reduced social tolerance level’ has spread across the society.
“Iran’s social tolerance level has fallen over the past few years due to different reasons, and this is a serious alarm bell. We see people every day showing harsh and fierce reactions when faced with too insignificant events they find against their will or in cases in which they feel their rights have been violated. Today’s urban life is too different from what it was in the past. People are now under different types of pressure, with economic hardships being their intersection. Moreover, there are still other social restrictions people have to endure.” (State-run Salamatnews website, May 23, 2017)
It goes without saying that by using the term ‘reduced social tolerance level’ instead of ‘people’s hatred and dislike towards the entire regime’, state media and officials are actually trying to avert people’s minds from the real problem, which is nothing but the regime and its policies, and thus to reduce its importance to the level of such issues like mismanagement and the executive director’s improper policies.
State-run Salamatnews then points to Iranian society’s eruptive state, writing “you are overwhelmed with countless number of bitter and unfortunate news from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, to the extent that you’ll be devoid of any feeling of happiness and joy no matter how optimistic you are. The news of high unemployment and poverty rate, economic slowdown, constant decrease in people’s purchasing power, huge embezzlements and economic corruption cases, or news and images of poor street vendors being beaten in Tehran and other cities, housing problems and continuous increase in prices and cost of living besides other bitter news have made the Iranian people so depressed that, according to world standards, they’re now the second saddest country in the world after the war-stricken Iraq.”
In the latest instance of the deep rift between people and the regime, state-run Ghanoon newspaper on May 23, 2018, covers an angry person’s reaction to being fined by Tehran’s traffic police, writing “yesterday, an image was released showing a person setting his car on fire at Tehran’s Jahankoodak intersection. In protest against being fined by traffic police, the driver in the photo, who appears to be from Golestan province as his car’s registration plate reads IRAN-69, reacted in the toughest way possible. Being stopped and fined by traffic police a few hours earlier, the driver couldn’t take it any more when he was fined for a second time for traffic violations, setting his ‘Pride’ vehicle on fire while pedestrians and other drivers were watching. Although it’s not clear how much he was fined, but the car he set ablaze cost at least 20 million tomans.”
Trying to describe the reason behind the incident, the newspaper points to society’s catastrophic situation, writing “while the media didn’t point to the young man’s motive nor did the traffic police give any explanations in this regard, it could be imagined that the driver had been inundated with debt-related thoughts right before he was fined for the first time. Or maybe he had a fight with his wife before leaving home in the morning, disputing over his inability to pay for daily needs. Setting a car on fire for being fined twice is really strange, in the sense that someone is willing to burn a significant part of his assets only to protest about being fined.”
The state-run newspaper expresses its fear over society’s eruptive capacity while pointing to more instances of people’s miserable conditions, writing “the incident could point to Iranian society’s agitation and significant decrease in people’s tolerance level, otherwise what could possibly justify setting a car on fire to protest about getting a traffic ticket? While such incidents have repeatedly happened over the past few years, the officials still don’t bother to pay the least attention. On April 14 this year, a 51 year old man attempted to set himself on fire on Tehran’s Daneshgah Street, but people on the scene prevented him from doing so. Also in December last year, a man on Tehran’s Valiasr Street set his motorbike on fire while people were watching.
“In March 2016, a street vendor set himself on fire when faced with municipality agents violently removing his belongings. The intersection of all such incidents could be the society’s irritated state, constantly increasing under pressure and hardships of life while being revealed in different shapes.”
“Last year’s figures show that physical fight accounts for 28.5 percent of Legal Medicine’s clinical examinations, a figure more or less unchanged in the past several years as well, putting physical fight on top of Legal Medicine’s clinical examination figures.
“These days we see people gathering in front of government offices to protest about their rights being violated financially, socially, in banks, across the city, etc., reflecting yet another type social anger and reduced tolerance level.”