TitleEveryone knows something is wrong, but no one dares to stop it

A black, dictatorial regime

2 Nov 2010

■ N. Sayeh
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It was midnight and I was fast asleep. Suddenly a crashing sound and a flickering light woke me up. I quickly got out of bed and looked out of the window, where I saw a truck unloading bricks. I assumed it must be a load for one of our neighbors and I went back to the warmth of my bed.

In the morning my mother’s voice made me jump out of my bed. ‘What?’ I shouted. ‘A mosque? Here?! No, it must be a mistake; we have a mosque just across the street! Wait, mum, I’m coming down…’

With a sad face, my mother told me the bricks I had seen at night were for building a mosque in our lovely green area. The entire neighborhood was shocked. ‘This is not logical, we already have one mosque within a distance of 200 meters!’ I exclaimed. In the evening people held a meeting at which all of our neighbors, from young to old, religious and non-religious, were present. They all disagreed with the new mosque. A woman dressed in chador said: ‘I go to the mosque every night, but God knows, sometimes there are only 4 or 5 women in the women’s part and it’s the same in the men’s part.’ ‘Why do they want to build another mosque when the other one is almost empty?’ an elderly man continued, ‘only people of my age go the mosque, if they just wait for a couple of years, we will all be dead and there will be no one to go to the mosque anymore!’ I saw a young woman who was hugging her baby, saying: ‘All this green around us when looking out of my window gives me a good feeling. I can’t bear the noise of a mosque! It will ruin the calmness of this area.’

‘All this green around us when looking out of my window gives me a good feeling’

Some of my neighbors volunteered to write an affidavit and gave it to other neighbors for signing. They started going from one office to another, visiting almost all of the related offices: district municipality, municipality, mosque affairs’ office, even the environmental agency. All of them answered that they disagreed with building more mosques and destructing green spaces. They told us they know there are many more things which people really need such as a library or sports complexes but building a mosque is not something they can prevent, only because of the name of ‘mosque’: if they stop it, the government will mark as ‘contrary to Islam’ or ‘Zionist’ or … and at last they would get fired! They finally told us: ‘You have only one chance, we cannot help you but you can stop it by yourselves, when they come for cutting the trees people can gather around the green space and prevent them from starting their work.’

People talked and talked and talked, and what I remembered is that a black dictatorial regime is governing even our governmental offices. All of them know that something is wrong and unappealing but none of them dares to stop it just because of religious intolerance. There are many mosques in Iran without prayers, and sometimes with prayers, that come there just for their positions, and this made me remember a poem from Hafez:

Happy days in the tavern I would abide
Saw the things that from the temple would hide.

Tehran Review
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