“And these times are so hard, and it’s getting even harder…”Eminem, Lose Yourself.

Life is not good in Iran. Economic hardships are driving the average Iranian citizen to near poverty. The New York Times reports on their study of a middle-aged construction company worker named Nader. He lives in Tehran. Nader’s savings are gone, and his rent has doubled. Long ago, he was forced to cut meat out of his diet for economic reasons.

The Times interviewed him over the phone; he told them, “I can’t keep up with the rising prices, no matter how hard I run. Our demand is for the government to fix the economy, to understand that we are breaking under financial pressure.” 

Nader is doing what he can. He’s taken a second job as a cab driver to make enough money to buy schoolbooks and clothes for his young son. Still, the money is slow to come.

I think many of us can relate to his plight. However, the sad reality is that I could replace the name of the city of Tehran with Tampa, which would be just as believable and relatable.

The skyline of modern Tehran
Urban sprawl in modern Tehran, Iran. Screenshot from YouTube and Vice Asia.

The Boiling Point

Tensions are hitting a boiling point in the Islamic Republic of 84 million citizens. Young and old alike are taking to the streets in protest in a continuation of upheavals that began in 2019, where sky-high fuel prices and a repressive fundamentalist government angered citizens to the point of violence, some setting government buildings on fire and shouting “Death to the dictator!”. A brutal crackdown on the protesters and the newly realized COVID pandemic put people back in their homes for the time being. But feelings of discontent have been bubbling under the surface for some time.

The breaking point in 2022 came with the murder of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish student by the name of Masha Amini (مهسا امینی).