We interviewed the Iranian collective “See you in Iran“, whose aim is to make Iranian socio-cultural reality known in the international scene and to contribute to changing the hate-based narrative that the mainstream Western media offers about Iran. In addition to the economic and political sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for decades, Iranian cultural production has also been ignored. The group aims to raise awareness of the socio-cultural material produced in the country, as well as to represent marginalised populations and ignored narratives through various apparatuses such as; a cultural house that organises events, workshops, talks and exhibitions; a travel platform; an online community; a hostel and a media network. See you in Iran aims to change the image installed in the imaginary of a large part of the western population, of a territory plunged into chaos and repression, for an image closer to the reality of the country.

Pressenza – The Western media offer an image of Iran as a country that threatens and destabilises world peace. How is the life of ordinary people in Iran?
See You in Iran Team – The image of Iran that has been portrayed throughout the mainstream media, which is aligned with agendas of states that benefit from isolating the country, is far from the reality. In fact, the living situation in Iran, like any other country, is entangled with its history and geo-politics, factors without which analysing the current state is impossible.

Pressenza – During the last year the rial (Iranian currency) has been devalued by three, the price of imported raw materials has skyrocketed and inflation has increased by more than 50%. What is the current economic situation in Iran?
See You in Iran Team – In short for the majority of the population, not good.  Though part of it is certainly due to internal mismanagement the propaganda machinery definitely played a major role in the recent plummeting of the national currency and increase of inflation.

Pressenza – After the US revoked the agreement on the nuclear programme in 2015, the US began a series of sanctions against Iran. How does the US blockade affect the Iranian population?
See You in Iran Team – The reinstatement of sanctions is a part of one of the many infowars that has been launched by the Trump administration. Their dissemination of misinformation has consisted of the U.S. government baselessly challenging IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors and the use of a Game of Thrones meme to gloat about the economic destabilisation of Iran (Trump showed his photo on his Twitter account with the slogan ‘Sanctions are coming’, inspired by the famous ‘Winter is Coming’ Throne Game). Furthermore, they are reviving age-old myths of the Iranian people as powerless victims in need of the ultimate white saviour. All of which is eerily reminiscent of U.S. rhetoric regarding Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

Pressenza – What is your opinion on the US accusation that defines Iran as “the main sponsor of international terrorism”?
See You in Iran Team – Iran has always been considered as a strategic point in the region hence the western powers never stopped interfering in its internal affairs for the past two hundred years. The meddlesome strategies have ranged from interventionism and interference with Iran’s political system to economic sanctions and stigmatisation of the country primarily through mainstream media which has gained tremendous momentum in past decades. Therefore, the labelling of Iran as the biggest sponsor of global terrorism by Trump and his gang is hardly a surprise especially at a time when US undeniable destructive presence in the Middle East has directly amplified the chaos and carnage in the region that can be witnessed in Libya and Syria.

Pressenza – What is your opinion on the ruling of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations on the partial lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iran?
See You in Iran Team – The current warmongering US administration has devalued all the institutions that had a role to play in terms of human rights and civil societies. The ruling, indicated for one more time that a country that pulls out of an internationally recognised deal, doesn’t consider the UN court of justice.

Pressenza -“See you in Iran” is a broad collective that carries out many activities. What is the project of “See you in Iran”?
See You in Iran Team  Security, order and democracy within the “Global North” as well as chaos, suppression and war within the “Global South” are two sides of the same coin. This dichotomy stems from a suppressor warmongering self-serving discourse that puts itself above all and considers its survival to be dependent on abolishing any other way of thinking.

The self-other ideology will soon harm bigger and bigger populations as it has already to an extent when terrorist attacks are not confined to borders anymore and take place in both “Global South” and  “Global North”. There remains a bigger picture though, the one that is closer to reality. The portrayal of war, chaos and suppression with regards to Iran is just as unrealistic as the portrayal of secure, orderly and democratic “Global North” which is exactly the dichotomised landscape that mainstream media tries to get across. Internalisation of such perspective causes the citizens of the “Global North” to become obedient and satisfied with the mere illusions of liberty and security and the population of the “Global South” to become passive and immobile since there is only doom lurking in every corner. Therefore the  “Global North”’s perception of countries such as Iran is extremely biased.

The fact of the matter is that everyone choses a lifestyle in accordance to their circumstances but the gap in standards of living between“Global South” and “Global North” isn’t as big as to be defined by “war” and “chaos”. Moreover the neoliberalism plague that has swept through the planet is not much less harmful than what “Global South” countries are struggling with but maybe in a different shell. Therefore we, as the inhabitants of the earth, live at times when the source of suffering is mutual and needs mutual undertaking and unified fronts to be changed whether you live in Paris or Tehran.

The current situation needs to be altered by togetherness and affinity and that togetherness must be formed around the collective goal of changing the dichotomised view of the human beings. See You in Iran organisation attempt is to change the existing space throughout the media outlets that feed upon the polarised ideology. At the same time we try to challenge and confront “Iranophobia” by being an apparatus to provide a space for people from different parts of the world to connect better with each other and change the image of Iran through unfiltered narratives of travellers. We also try to run the organisation democratically and with an alternative business model. We expect people from different countries to accompany us on this path and by getting out of their comfort zone to form a more direct connection with inhabitants of countries like Iran to contribute to the cause.