US embassy cable - 01ANKARA6815

IRANIAN VIEWS ON U.S. AND LIFE IN TEHRAN

Identifier: 01ANKARA6815
Wikileaks: View 01ANKARA6815 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2001-10-26 10:55:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINR PREL TU IR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 261055Z OCT 01
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7227
INFO GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
IRAN COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 
AMCONSUL DUBAI 
NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 006815 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2011 
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PREL, TU, IR 
SUBJECT: IRANIAN VIEWS ON U.S. AND LIFE IN TEHRAN 
 
1.  (U) CLASSIFIED BY POLCONS STUART JONES FOR REASONS 1.5 
(B) AND (D). 
 
2.  (C) SUMMARY.  AN IRANIAN VISA APPLICANT CLAIMED THAT 
RELIGIOUS VIGILANTES KIDNAPPED HIM AND BEAT HIM FOR SEVERAL 
DAYS AFTER THEY CAUGHT HIM AT ONE OF TEHRAN'S CANDLELIGHT 
VIGILS FOLLOWING THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS.  ANOTHER YOUNG 
IRANIAN IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICANT STATED THAT MANY YOUNG 
IRANIANS ARE TIRED OF IRANIAN PRESIDENT KHATAMI AND DO NOT 
BELIEVE THAT KHATAMI CAN BRING ABOUT POLITICAL REFORM.  AFTER 
A TRIP TO TEHRAN, A U.S. BORN AMCIT TOLD CONOFF THAT TEHRAN 
APPEARED ECONOMICALLY BUSTLING.  SHE NOTED THAT TEHRAN LOOKED 
CLEAN AND THAT THERE WERE SEVERAL NEW BUILDINGS UNDER 
CONSTRUCTION; FRUIT AND VEGETABLES WERE PLENTIFUL IN THE 
LOCAL STORES.  END SUMMARY. 
 
----------------------------- 
IRANIAN SYMPATHY OVER ATTACKS 
----------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) NUMEROUS IRANIAN VISA APPLICANTS HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR 
DEEP SYMPATHIES TO CONOFF IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER THE 
TERRORIST ATTACKS AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER AND PENTAGON. 
BEFORE BEGINNING THEIR INTERVIEWS, NEARLY ALL IRANIAN VISA 
APPLICANTS TAKE A MOMENT TO EXPRESS THEIR SORROW OVER THE 
ATTACKS. 
 
4.  (C) ONE APPLICANT CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN PRESENT AT A 
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL HELD IN TEHRAN DAYS AFTER THE TERRORIST 
ATTACKS.  A YOUNG MALE FROM ESFAHAN, HE LIFTED HIS SHIRT TO 
SHOW SCARS FROM A WHIPPING HE RECEIVED AND SCARS ON HIS 
WRISTS AND ANKLES FROM BEING TIED TO A WALL.  THE APPLICANT 
CLAIMED THAT HE WAS IN A CENTRAL AREA OF TEHRAN WITH 
APPROXIMATELY 600 MEN AND WOMEN OBSERVING THE QUIET 
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL.  HE INDICATED THAT THREE BASIJIS GRABBED 
HIM, BLINDFOLDED HIM AND HELD HIM HOSTAGE FOR SIX DAYS.  THE 
BASIJIS BEAT WITH A TELEPHONE CORD FOR TWO DAYS AND ALLEGEDLY 
ACCUSED HIM OF FOMENTING REVOLUTION. THE APPLICANT STATED 
THAT ORDINARY IRANIANS WERE APPALLED AT THE TERRORIST 
INCIDENT IN THE U.S. AND WANTED TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR 
SOLIDARITY AGAINST VIOLENCE.  THE APPLICANT COULD NOT 
INDICATE HOW MANY OTHERS HAD BEEN CAUGHT BY ROAMING GANGS OF 
BASIJI VIGILANTES. 
 
------------------------------- 
IRANIAN PRESIDENT LOSING LUSTER 
------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  CONOFF QUERIED ANOTHER YOUNG IRANIAN IMMIGRANT VISA 
APPLICANT REGARDING POPULAR VIEWS OF IRANIAN PRESIDENT 
MOHAMMED KHATAMI.  THE APPLICANT STATED IN PERFECT ENGLISH 
THAT MANY YOUNG IRANIANS ARE TIRED OF THE LACK OF POLITICAL 
REFORMS.  MANY YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT KHATAMI CAN 
TRULY CHANGE THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION.  THE APPLICANT 
STATED THAT YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL DISILLUSIONED AND BETRAYED BY 
THE LACK OF PROGRESS BY KHATAMI.  ASKED ABOUT RELIGIOUS 
LEADER KHAMANEI, THE APPLICANT SAID NOTHING.  ON POPULAR 
VIEWS REGARDING THE U.S. BOMBINGS IN AFGHANISTAN, THE 
APPLICANT STATED THAT IRANIANS DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE.  HE 
ADDED THAT MANY IRANIANS HAD NO STRONG FEELINGS TOWARD THE 
AFGHANS.  INSTEAD, PEOPLE ARE MORE INTERESTED IN DAILY 
SURVIVAL IN A WEAK ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT. 
 
6.  (C) MANY YOUNG VISA APPLICANTS INDICATED TO CONOFF THAT 
LIFE IN IRAN IS COMFORTABLE.  MOST LIVE AT HOME WITH THEIR 
PARENTS AND ARE PUTTING OFF GETTING MARRIED.  MANY IRANIAN 
STUDENTS ARE NOT QUICK TO CRITICIZE THEIR COUNTRY OR ECONOMY 
AND RESPOND THAT LIFE IS FINE.  UNDERLYING THIS SENTIMENT, 
HOWEVER, IS A LARGE NUMBER OF EDUCATED STUDENTS THAT ARE 
APPLYING TO GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.  MANY 
UNIVERSITY-EDUCATED STUDENTS SAID THEY ARE UNABLE TO OBTAIN 
WORK IN IRAN AFTER GRADUATING AND VIEW CONTINUED STUDIES IN 
THE U.S. AS AN ESCAPE, EVEN IF THEY RETURN TO IRAN AFTER 
FINISHING. 
 
------------------------------ 
OUTSIDER'S VIEW OF TEHRAN LIFE 
------------------------------ 
 
7.  (C) A U.S. BORN AMERICAN CITIZEN REPORTED THAT TEHRAN 
APPEARED ECONOMICALLY BUSTLING AND WAS OTHERWISE RELATIVELY 
CALM.  IN TEHRAN FOR SEVERAL WEEKS FINALIZING ADOPTION 
PROCEEDINGS FOR A STEPCHILD WITH HER IRANIAN BORN U.S. 
CITIZEN HUSBAND,  SHE STATED THAT DURING HER TRIP, WHICH TOOK 
HER TO MANY GOVERNMENT AND LOCAL OFFICES IN CENTRAL TEHRAN, 
SHE RECEIVED GOOD TREATMENT AND THAT PEOPLE WERE GENERALLY 
"NICE."  SHE NOTED THAT TEHRAN APPEARED RELATIVELY CLEAN AND 
THAT THERE WERE SEVERAL NEW BUILDINGS BEING CONSTRUCTED. 
MANY OTHER IRANIAN VISA APPLICANTS HAVE CONFIRMED THAT TEHRAN 
HAS SEVERAL LARGE BUILDINGS BEING BUILT.  THE AMCIT STATED 
THAT DURING HER TRIP THE LOCAL WATER WAS TURNED OFF IN 
DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE CITY DURING THE WEEK.  THE HIGH-RISE 
BUILDING WHERE SHE WAS STAYING, HOWEVER, HAD ITS OWN WATER 
SUPPLY AND DID NOT SUFFER FROM THE CUTOFFS.  SHE INDICATED 
THAT THE LOCAL IRANIANS SHE MET APPEARED HAPPY AND THAT THERE 
WAS PLENTY OF FOOD, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES IN THE LOCAL STORES. 
HER HUSBAND NOTED THAT LOCAL POLICE ONLY HARASSED TAXI 
DRIVERS, STOPPING THEM AND EXTORTING SMALL BRIBES.  THEY BOTH 
ADDED THAT ONLY ONCE DID THEY FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE TRAVELING 
AROUND THE CITY.  AT ONE POINT IN THE TRIP, THEY LEFT A LOCAL 
NEIGHBORHOOD AREA AFTER POLICE TOLD THEM THAT SOME UNIVERSITY 
STUDENTS WERE DEMONSTRATING AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. 
 
 
PEARSON 

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