Perceptions of Iran

The reactions of people when I tell them I am going to Iran are very interesting. Many of the reactions can be summed up in the following comment I received via email from a ‘westerner’:

Isn’t there a lot of political dispute over there right now making it unsafe for visitors? What is there in Iran that makes you want to visit? I guess my image of most of those countries is a lot of desert and fighting…sorry if this sounds naive.

It is not surprising to hear these comments from people who live a long way from Iran and whose views have largely been shaped by sensationalist snippets every few weeks on the news. The funny thing is, almost all Turkish people I have spoken to share similar views. This is despite the fact that Turkey and Iran are in the same part of the world and actually share borders!

All the locals want to why I am going to Iran and not Europe, Australia or another country. They have absolutely no intention to visit Iran and effectively see Iran as a backwards country. I believe this reflects Turkey’s movement of the last 80 years towards Europe. Most people in Turkey look towards and learn more about the west at the expense of the east. I would say even many of the Islamists do not want Turkey to share the same laws and practices as Iran. Then again, I am sure a reasonable proportion do.

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