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I've obtained an Iranian visa and will visit next month. Any suggestions for topics and things to ask ordinary people?
Ashkan Nemati's profile photo‫کوهــ ســار‬‎'s profile photoSoleyman Mohammadi's profile photoNeda Qazi's profile photo
I suggest you be very very careful.
Suggest they join Google+ so we can learn from each other.
Ask how sanctions affect ordinary people
The sorts of questions I'd want you to ask are likely to get you imprisoned or executed. Seriously, I get the impression that there's a sizable middle class in Iran that would love to realize the potential of the middle class, but due to (geo)political factors are constrained from doing so. They're view of how to achieve the desirable stability and comfort that is latent in Iran could be very instructive.
What they think about America? ask this thing to a layman people. then share that whether their Govt policy contain a voice of their people,
First of all please no more asking about "how you feel about US" or anything for that matter. we had enough of "we are OK with Americans" and "woooaw , are you!?" stuff.
as a journalist, it would be nice if you let your readers know how much the sanctions bite us and how unfair they are. let people know how bad Iranians feel about the double-standards. that nobody cares about Israel's nuclear stockpile and just focusing on Iran's issue, and then using tools that clearly suffer normal people. thanks
tell to iranis people are awesome
+Nicholas Kristof If you are flying in via Dubai, try to hook up with some Iranians living, holidaying or working here. You could learn a lot and very quickly.
+Jules Korngold +Brian Tomlinson I listed some active G+ Iranians above. You may like to follow them. I have learnt a lot from them over many months ... mostly about how Iranians are just the same as all of us, about the breadth and depth of Iranian arts, culture, industry and science, how Iran has struggled with sanctions over many years and how they hope for just peace.
I'm more interested in what they want us to know. I'd leave it open-ended and allow them to answer however they want.
+Nicholas Kristof ;
After more than 1.5 year living far from Iran, I'm in Tehran right now in the middle of a 2 weeks trip. I will visit Mashhad and Qazvin as well.
What to ask from ordinary people? I suggest you to let them ask their questions from you.
You will understand lot more from their questions rather than their answers.

+Hassan Al Shouli ;
Thank you for the mention.
+Nicholas Kristof In Iran, we're waiting for you to talk with you about wrong behavior of usa
We have many questions.
Why not boycott Israel that have nuclear
Why does no one condemn Israel for the assassination of our scientists?
But we stand up to the end. we resist
d s
Ask them why any sane American would travel to Iran. Thanks Nick.
This is so good that you will travel to Iran +Nicholas Kristof . This will let you see many things with your own eyes . Iranian people are so kind with tourists , be sure about it. There is no notice about official works in my comment , because it's not depend of what Iranian people truly think & believe ... . Try to talk with people sometimes , most of Iranian people will try to talk you back with respect , kindness & deep interest. If I know what you exactly looking for to know , you will find your answer easily soon here :)
Thanks my friend +Hassan Al Shouli , for mention.
Accept my respect from Tehran - Iran.
Do they feel free to criticize the Iranian government (including the religious parts) online, or do they worry that the government is watching and will penalize them harshly for doing so?
Have a wonderful journey to Iran. And try to go with the Beginner's Mind and I am sure you will have a great time there.
What do they think of Chinese government's actions on the nuclear issue, help Iran or hurting Iranian people?
Ask why they'll pay more for food that is grown with pesticides as opposed to organically grown. It's true, but where did that come from.
Enjoy & eat lots of delicious food!
Thanks +Hassan Al Shouli for the mention.
Good questions suggested by +Stig-Lennart Sørensen.
I add a few more:

1. Are they happy with the way the country is run? If yes, what is good about it? If no, what keeps them from doing anything. For the no part, you might hear many interesting responses.

2. How much their government represents them? Why they think so?

3. How much practising Islam has changed since 1979 (the Islamic Revolution)? (For the better or for the worse)

4. Is the government really a religious government? Why?

5. Deep down their hearts, do they feel proud of being an Iranian?

6. Why they don't do anything to end the house arrest of the popular opposition leaders: Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Karoubi.

And of course a dozen more ...
Have a good time in Iran.
"Where are you going today? Why? How? What will you do when you get there? How will you go home afterward?" We in the US have so little understanding of how complicated these mundane activities can be; you as a journalist know how simple questions can lead to greater understanding. In any event, please be careful.
What are the dreams for your country? If you had three magic wishes, what would they be? How can the U.S. support you in your desires for a better country?
+Nicholas Kristof I would love to know how they perceive foreigners in General and Westerners in particular and also on safety levels for foreigners to travel to Iran (as I also would love to go) and also how they perceive female travelers (as my wife would love to go too).
+Nicholas Kristof Do not only go to Tehran. you should also go to other cities as well. I'd suggest you to go to KHORAM SHAHR a city at south of Iran and see how people are struggling for survival and and ask them how they are feeling about Islamic Government after 30 years of retaking the city from Iraq.
in small cities you will be surrounded by many people staring at you and following you. sometimes, they may say hello, how are you? you'd better answer their greetings with a smile. don't get nervous or frightened. no danger threatens you. they simply get excited when they see a foreigner. in big cities like tehran no one will treat you like a vip. you can ask almost any question you like. no one will respond to your questions impolitely. a few months ago my son had met a canadian couple here in ardabil (my hometown). they're still in touch and from what my son says to me about their posts on facebook, i understand that they've enjoyed their visit to iran a lot. geremie (the canadian man) says in one of his posts "iranians are the most hospitable people i've ever seen." the man's full name is jeremie blais. you can visit his facebook page and ask your questions first-hand from him. my especial thanks also to +Hassan Al Shouli.
I personally will be glad to visit you in Religous city of Mashad. you are very very welcome here,
You may have heard of the 8th Imam of shia, Imam reza, whose shrine is in Mashad,
Most tourists come to 3 cities beside tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashad. But for you as a Journalist, I don't know if u have that choice or not!
+Nicholas Kristof as a suggestion, try to choose the ordinary people u gonna talk to, Random. go to different parts of city, and talk to people.
don't let others decide for you whom to talk.
that's the point.
Ask them How they are alive?
if you come to visit Isfahan,i would be glad to be your host.Bon voyage!
try to find how government propaganda affetcs us; how we live with no certain future, no means to cope the ever rising costs of living; what we think about America's double standards on human rights; do we wish our government be overthrown the way Iraq's was; how Iranian women have been struggling with discrimination.
+Asgar Mahmoudi just for the record, +Nicholas Kristof will come to Iran not Africa or Afghanistan, you are describing Iran and Iranians like they haven't seen any foreigners here. your son may met some Canadian in street but here in Orumiyeh where I live, I hosted more than 20 total strangers from all around world, England, Italy, America, Mexico, Finland, Germany... they all came and stayed in my house for at least a night and as you said after they left Iran they admit they liked here, but as I told you before, the way you are describing your own country is not what it really is, and beside I'm pretty sure +Nicholas Kristof traveled many places as journalist and he definitely knows that these kind of people would be every where in every country not just Iran.
i'm talking about my own experiences. even in tabriz bus terminal, i've seen such a scene. i'm a realistic person and don't think talking about these things would diminish iranians' status. by the way, i don't think the number of tourists that visit ardabil is fewer than the number of tourists that visit uromieh. finally, if you think, i,ve defaced iranian's by writing the truth, i apologize for that.
I would be interested in learning more about how the "social contract" between government and the governed has changed over time and if (and how) political power has become more centralised over time.
just use public transportation and U can learn a lot, more than any other place.
U should ask 2 question.1)how do we survive with the corrupted economy.2) do we obey traffic laws? OR how do we drive?
iranian society is extremely polarized. some people are very generous in praising the government. others are too much critical of it. finding a fair person who would tell you the truth is like looking for a needle in a haystak. try to inteview people who have no biases.
+Jules Korngold

well nothing very important about me, but it was you who asked us to join google + , so we can learn from each other.
now tell me what do u wanna learn? I am always ready to teach! :)) (as I am a teacher)
1- How much do you earn in one month ?
2- How much do you pay for your house ?
3- How much do you need for food ?
4- How do you manage them ?
5- How do you manage ?
6- How do you manage ?
7- How do you manage ?
Just tell me how do you manage your living ?
Just let them know you are a Journalist, and writing for an influential media. don't ask them anything special. in fact, they will tell you what they think you need to hear, the most important thing according to them.
what +Asgar Mahmoudi said is of great importance. that the thoughts, responses and reactions that you will face will be quite different. that's why i would suggest to talk to a lot of people to get a realistic glimpse of our current status of mind. talk to young generation, old citizens, beard men, guys wearing the modern fashion, students, business people, quality people, women wearing nice Hijab, and those who look different as well, kids even!
don't go back with "opposition is everywhere" or "hardliners! that's the way i'll describe Iranians".
don't get into controversial issues if you are not in the mood to hear all their answers + no matter which side they will advocate, most likely you will find everybody quite freindly and willing to talk. if you ask me to point out only one thing they all share, that's hospitality. good-luck.
thanks for mentioning +Hassan Al Shouli
+Mansure Morgan What city do you live in? What do you teach? I've seen your profile but don't know Persian.
Look at the life of Jewish people who have remained in Iran. What is their life like.
+Jules Korngold I live in Mashhad (Iran of course, because there is a city name Mashhad, in US.) located in north east of Iran, near Tajikestan....
I teach software in a Computer institute.
How can Iran best normalize it relations with the U.S. and world when they are pursuing a 'peaceful' nuclear program and have sworn for the destruction of Israel?
Apart from +Hassan Moradi's point, when people start talking about "they" and "them", it's part of a dehumanising process that includes the suggestion that the "they" (e.g. Muslims, Sunnites, Shi'ites, Jews, Christians and black people) are a totally homogeneous group, typically possessing some of evil intent or significant difference. Of course, each of the groups I used as examples are as varied and similar in their opinions and lives as any other group of 100's of millions of people.
+Hassan Al Shouli right now in iran's parliment inaguration ceremony it was said that our problem is voice. i think what people say is not very important. government mouthpieces should watch their rhetoric. of course, i'm talking generally not about isreal.
Child abuse resulting from exposure to rituals that involve violence such as flogging, cutting foreheads with blades, and sobbing mythical stories of the tragic death of the glorified prophet Mohammed’s grandsons, which is the premise on which Shiites draw their beliefs. You can investigate the extent to which these rituals impact on the psyche, mental health and growth of these poor children.
Thanks for the mention +پدر هستم , you know how much I would love this chance! Let me say congrats on the visa, I would give a lot for the opportunity to visit Iran. I think you should ask the same questions of Iranian people as you would in any other country. Iranian people are no different than any other, they want the same things we do, they have the same hopes and dreams for themselves and their families. They have the gift of a beautiful culture (which I believe we in the west lack completely) but they also have the curse of totalitarian rule that undermines their way of life. I think most people on the street just want peace and freedom, and to be left to live their lives. Most people everywhere want this. Most people want respect and to be treated as equals in their communities and in the world at large.

American "interests" is what is driving all of the fear mongering and saber rattling. Nothing will change as long as this is the case. American "interests" have nothing to do with Iranian people, their lives, or their brutalized rights or freedoms. The American government could care less.


This is what we all want. Talk to them about these things. Leave all the political garbage out of it.

wish you a great trip to Iran.
Iranian people are very friendly and hospitable. They love peace and friendship. Unfortunately because of some incorrect introduction and reflection of Iran from Media, most of the people in world do not know the real Iran and real Cultures and traditions of Iran. Iran has an ancient civilization and a rich culture.
Have a nice trip and ask them how it feels to be an Iranian:)
with this troubles do u like living in ur country? why?
but if u come to our country u will realize that how far wrong information they have given to u :) welcome to Iran
Ask about family life, family relations, and expectations for the future of their families. You will learn much more than just the politics.
+Mani Farsaei said: "ask them «and» don't trust their answered!"
Ha ha.. that's so funny. So why asking?! :)

PS: Immigration of high educated to outside of the country called brain drain which is not only a problem in underdevelopment countries, but even an issue in industrialized countries like Canada.
i do agree Mr +Tohid Azizi , let My Country people ask their question.
first of all there is nothing to be worried about, some people may be interested to know about your own country, some people welcome you in a good manner , and some just cross you and don't pay any attention to you! I'm sure you will enjoy your trip
Arab spring should be your #1 question if possible
I'll be in Europe from 8 to 22 of June.
But I can give your friend some info if he knows what he wants.
BTW this Iranian months (from a week ago till 3 weeks hence) is politically
a dangerous month for government, so internet is almost blocked and you
can't even check your email sometimes.

EDIT: This comment was a private reply I sent to +Dan Brickley via email, but because I am not familiar with Google+ it seems my reply was to this thread, not his personal email.
Sorry for inconvenience.
+David Holman ;
Excuse me sir but what's the relationship between Arab Spring (or as we call it: Islamic Awakening ) and Persians ?
+Hamed Saber ;
Are you joking? I'm in Tehran and the Internet works well.
I'm also checking my personal (Gmail) and business emails without any problem.
Well, I didn't know that my reply will come here as a comment, so please note that my previous comment is written "to" +Dan Brickley not a public reply. Sorry for inconvenience!
+Tohid Azizi Dude, internet is blocked for public, rare followers of the hard liners are always have all sorts of freedom :)
+Nicholas Kristof and other friends, it is hard to connect to Google+ without some bypassing the DPI rate limiters in Iran these days, so please keep in touch via email if you want.
What will promote moderation in the Middle East?
+Hamed Saber - :) Please stop lying to other people - Sent from Tehran, Iran Internet!
I would be curious to know if they think their government is trying to build nuclear weapons, and if so, whether they support this or disapprove.
I'm very disappointed. I'm seeing more and more anti-USA propaganda here and from my Iranian "friends" circle. I circled Iranians in good faith and now I get hate and anti-semitism in my stream. I suspect +Hamed Saber is correct. Maybe the mullahs only allow pro-regime hacks to have web access.
Maybe the mullahs only allow pro-regime hacks to have web access.
What a comment!!
+Mansure Morgan Your separate post was the straw that broke the camel's back. You posted the old canard about Israel "intentionally" attacking the USS Liberty 45 years ago. What the hell did you intend to post that old news for? Israel paid reparations for the unfortunate incident. Did Al Qaeda pay reparations for 911?

I befriended you with the intention of learning how we can live on the same planet peacefully, not reading your anti-Israel propaganda.
+Jules Korngold you don't seem to look for truth but you like to here what you like!
how ever, here in Iran there is internet access although some restrictions some time. as a programmer i am forced to bypass restrictions made by your country to some scientific websites using vps but in a general network access no interest in websites like bbc and voa i have no need to bypass restrictions.
Ask them about the internal Iranian politics. Are they happy with their political system. We know Iranians are rather progressive. Would they prefer we outside Iran learnt about thier other great strides beside military advancements?
+Jules Korngold
I actually don't know what you mean by "Anti-USA propaganda" but if it's anything like criticizing your government's hostile attitude you better calm down my friend. well, talking nasty about normal people is of course of no rational justification but whats wrong with criticizing a government. don't whole the world do it about Iran's government every moment?!
by the way, please stop that "Mullahs" only let pro-govs to have access to internet. if you still don't believe it, you better learn persian and read those tons of anti-regime posts in Google+. well, there are restrictions, and its silly but facts aren't facts if you deform them, what he said was exaggeration.
+Jeff Campbell My disappointment is that we are already talking about our differences. I was hoping to share what we have in common living on the same planet. I'll listen for it as you suggest! And I will defend my views about the USA and Israel when challenged.

And since you brought up Israel and charge it with being a "terrorist" state you are politicizing this conversation too and taking it in an ugly direction. Let's remember Iran's mullahs fund Hezbollah and Hamas - the real terrorists. I suggest you keep your political views to yourself if you want to play the "wise mediator". You may be a "good" person, but you won't score any points with me by bashing Israel or the USA.

I strongly suggest we get off politics and focus on cultural things: I'm wondering if Western music is allowed in Iran...
"I circled Iranians in good faith and now I get hate and anti-semitism in my stream."

Anti-semitism? I have yet to see anything negative being said against Arabs or Jews here.
بهتر است سری به اماکن مقدس نیز بزنید .
در جاهایی مثل مشهد که روح آرام می گیرد .
حال با هار دینی و آیینی .
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